Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Week 8 in Eufaula: Winding Things Down

Hello from MONTGOMERY!

Hard to believe but the Summer in Eufaula has already come and gone! I just got back to Montgomery last night about midnight and am just now having a chance to step back and realize that my time in Eufaula is over. What a blessed summer! One to remember for sure.

But before some thoughts on the whole experience. A quick look at the 8th and Final week with Fr. Shoemaker.

It was a week of Gatherings and Goodbyes.

Monday and Tuesday was spent largely going to visit all of the sick in the parish one last time. Father and I went together and shared one last visit together.

On Wednesday after Mass, we heading down to Orange Beach for the annual "Seminarian Gathering." For around 30 years, every summer for about 4-5 days, all of the Seminarians for the Archdiocese of Mobile congregate down in Orange Beach at the home of a generous Catholic family from Mobile. The Archbishop is present along with the two Vocation Directors (Priests that help mentor the Seminarians in the Archdiocese) and the Chancellor (Priest who helps the Archbishop run the diocese). As we are currently spread out studying among 7 different dioceses, it is really the one time a year for us all to be in the same place.

Father Shoemaker is one of the Vocation Directors, so we road down together. All 19 Mobile Seminarians were able to make it. So it was a full house! Thank God for that!

The main objective was just for us to all be together and strengthen our fraternity as men studying to be priests. As you can imagine, it is a somewhat unique lifestyle to be living, so these relationships become crucial as you prepare for ordination and then live it out.

We are blessed in Mobile to have a real spirit of fraternity amongst the priests and seminarians. We really did have a good time together down at the beach.

One tradition that has emerged, is playing pool basketball with all of the seminarians. We divided into two teams and basically the only rule is...get the ball into the net....whatever means necessary. This year, however, it took awhile for us to find the water-basketball net.....in the meantime, we got a little anxious and had to resort to the frisbee I brought. What ensued was a dog-fight to carry the frisbee with your team to the other end of the pool. Here is a look at the onslaught:

Coming up with a game-
Punting it down to the other end

Trying to Hulk-it down the field

Looking for a pass

A bit of finesse

Us after the game---All 19 Mobile Seminarians!

It was a great way to break the ice and get to know one another (It was the first time, for us to meet the new guys and for them to meet us). It also gave us a good excuse to lay around for the rest of the afternoon, chat, fall in and out of naps, and enjoy one another's company.

The pool, throughout the week, provided endless entertainment.

Father Shoemaker brought a water-proof camera....which allowed the following moments to be captured.

L to R: Daniel, Stephen, Brandon, and Zack

Hand-Eye Coordination was a premium poolside

Honing in that Priestly skill

With all of the excitement, do you think Fr. Shoemaker could resist???

Of course not!

What do we want? TD! What's that? Touchdown!!!

Embrace the Intensity

Thursday night welcomed another tradition---Serra Club Dinner! The "Serra Club" is an International Association whose main objective is to Pray! Interesting hunh? Specifically they Pray for more Vocations to the Priesthood and religious life.

The Serra Club of Mobile always comes to Orange Beach and puts together a really nice seafood dinner for all of us at the nearby parish--St. Thomas by the Sea

Before that we had a special "Holy Hour" in their chapel to pray for more Vocations. A "Holy Hour" is basically just a solid hour of prayer. This Holy Hour featured Eucharistic "Exposition" and "Benediction." This is when the Eucharist is placed in a special vessel called a "Monstrance" and placed on the altar. After a special hymn, it provides an intimate setting to be in the Lord's presence and spend time with one another conversing...praying....just BEING together. At the end, "Benediction" occurs. This is when the priest goes behind the altar, picks up the monstrance, and then blesses everyone in attendance with the Eucharist in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This has become one of my favorite forms of prayer throughout my time in Seminary. I recommend it to anyone....Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

The Monstrance that was used during the Holy Hour was very special in itself. When John Paul II was the Pope, he has 6 special Monstrances made and bestowed upon them his special Apostolic Blessing. He then gave one to each continent and asked that they travel around the continent to promote prayer for more Vocations. One such Monstrance has found its way to the Archdiocese of Mobile and has been traveling around from parish to parish. So that added special significance to the event.

Below is a picture taken during the Holy Hour.

Big thanks to the Serrans for such a prayerful and enjoyable evening! Here is a shot of all of us Seminarians together after the dinner.

Sitting in the front is the Archbishop Emeritus of Mobile Oscar H. Lipscomb. The current bishop is the last person on the top right--Archbishop Thomas Rodi.

One last activity to share. Pat Arensberg (From Mobile. Went to China with me last summer) and I were swimming in the Gulf and started to get tired. We remembered they had a tube in their boat house and got one of the other guys to bring it to us.

Proved to be very relaxing water-lawn chairs

But after a bit, we felt the need for speed. Thankfully we were able to talk Stephen into our idea for a "Water-Rickshaw Service." Now that I look at this picture again, it really does seem like a picture off the "You Might be a Redneck If..." website!!! Hahaha

Look at us really cruising

All in All, it was a great trip. Great time in prayer. Great fellowship. Great fun. Great life. God is Good you know! So Thanks be to Him for the great time together.

Last Masses:

On Saturday around mid-morning, Father and I had to pack everything up to head to Union Springs (about 5 hrs away) for the 5 and 6PM Masses. After Masses, we made it back to Eufuala late that night...both of us dead tired. Next day there were 9AM and 12PM Masses. Then from 5-6PM we held a "Holy Hour" at our church the with the same special "Vocations Monstrance." It was very moving for me to see so many in the parish come back to the Church on Sunday afternoon to pray for me and other young men who may be considering the priesthood.

Thanks to everyone in Eufuala that I was blessed to know this summer. It was a really fantastic experience being there. I felt so welcomed! So part of a real Church family!!!

And with that, came the end of the summer assignment, there in Eufuala....the center of civilization :)

I consider myself truly blessed to have had the time to spend in Eufaula, even just for a few months. Such strong faith, deep history, and authentic Christian Witness are a few of the hallmarks at Holy Redeemer.

So a special Hello, Thank You, and GOD BLESS you to everyone reading from Holy Redeemer.

Catholic Prime-time:

Get Ready for the upcoming summer blockbuster hit: "Archdiocese of Mobile: The Vocation Boom." It will be broadcasted on a Live Show called "Life on the Rock." It will air TOMORROW (Thursday, August 19th) at 7 PM Central and 8 PM Eastern. If you don't have the Catholic Channel, you can view it on EWTN's website. Here is a link that will take you straight there: Archdiocese of Mobile: The Vocation Boom

You may be wondering, what is meant by "Vocation Boom?" Well, it is referring to the fact that we have SIX new guys who will begin their studies for the priesthood with the Archdiocese of Mobile! Our goal was to get at least four new guys to replace the four men who were just ordained in June. But God is so Good....that he sent us 6!!!

Allow me to introduce these new guys real quick:

Meet Stevie Dolan. Stevie grew up in Mobile at St. Mary's Parish and graduated from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in the Spring of '09. He spent one year at University of Alabama Huntsville running Cross Country and studying Mechanical Engineering. He will be heading to St. Joseph's Seminary College in Covington, LA at the end of this week.

Meet Sam O'Donnell. Sam just graduated from Murphy high school in Mobile--arch-rivals to McGill-Toolen!!! Sam played Varsity football and has worked as a lifeguard in the summers for the past four years. He will be starting College Seminary at St. Jean Vianney in Minnesota in a few short weeks.

Meet Chris Boutin. Chris reigns from St. Joseph's Parish in Pratville, AL. Chris went to Prattville high and was an all-star outfielder for their baseball team. He went on to play baseball at Troy for a couple years, and then trasferred to Auburn University in Montgomery where he graduated. He has been working for Progressive Insurance for a number of years all over Alabama. Chris will also be heading down to St. Jospeh's Seminary College

Meet Joey Dunbar. Joey grew up in Slidell, LA and went on to attend Auburn University. Joey was a punter on the Tigers Football team!!! He spent a couple years after College discerning and growing with the Legionnaires of Christ (A Religious Order), spending time in Connecticut and Ireland. After much prayer, Joey felt more so called to the Diocesan Priesthood. Having went to school in Auburn and his parents recently moving to Montgomery, Joey found his way to the Archdiocese of Mobile---Praise God! He will also be starting at St. Joseph's College Seminary at the end of this week.

Meet again, Matteush (?). I really need to learn this guys last name!!! Haha. I introduced Matteush in last week's post...so I refer you to that. We are so Happy to have a piece of Poland with us down in Dixie!

Finally, meet Jeremiah Carter. Sorry I don't have a good shot of him. But he is the one on the front row with the coat and tie. Jeremiah grew up moving around the world, but went to high school in California. He found he way down to Mobile for College attending University of South Alabama. There he became involved with the Catholic Student Center run by our Vocations Director Father Alex Valladares. In that environment, he was drawn deeply into his faith and heard a call to the priesthood. Jeremiah will soon be starting at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana.

Soooo....A big WELCOME to our newest 6 Seminarians. Thanks for opening your heart to God's Call in your life. May his Holy Spirit guide you in this next chapter of the Gift of your Lives.

And remember to check out the show on EWTN tomorrow night at 7PM Central: Archdiocese of Mobile: The Vocation Boom


O yea, did I mention this TV show tomorrow night at 7PM Central. Check out yours truly and other personalities from Mobile celebrating the gift of our 6 new seminarians!

A Look at different Seminaries, where Mobile guys are studying:

I mentioned this International Group that prays for Vocations in the post. Check out there website for their Mission in the United States.

Here is a video I ran across about the story of 3 guys who heard and responded to a call to the Priesthood. Pretty insightful---taking time for the simple things in life.


Luke 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”

Signing Off:

Alright Ya'll, have a great week. Let's pray for one another. And as always, if you have any specific prayer requests, shoot me an email.

Take time this week to enjoy some moments of silence. Enjoy the small things. Enjoy the people in your life. Take time to just be with them. Be thankful for them. Thank God. And relish in the Mystery that is You.

Peace & Love.

No comments:

Post a Comment