“Postcards” from the Class of 2014

July 3, 2014

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Week 5 Highlights

The Top Five:

Coming to a City Near you: Pontifical Council for Family
This past Monday we had a conference with Fr. Bill Donovan from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He explained to us the work that is being done in the Archdiocese for the big gathering of families in September of 2015. Started by St. John Paul II, one of the main jobs of the Pontifical Council for Families is to host the “World Meeting of Families” once every three years. The last one to take place was in Milan 2012 where over one million people participated in the closing Mass. This is very exciting for us in the United States, as we will host this event that should draw pilgrims from all over the world. Having gone to World Youth Day in 2011, there is something very special in a gathering with people from all over the world. This event in our own backyard will grant us the opportunity to pray for the family. There is no problem if you are not excited, I may be excited enough for everyone in the country.

Brothers and Sisters
This past week a few of us were able to encounter the gift of fraternity in various different ways. Some of the seminarians studying at the NAC (Pontifical North American College) invited the three guys on the program from Florida to their weekly Florida Night. This night consisted of praying Night Prayer (Compline) and just hanging out together. It is a clear sign of a good time when time flies by. This past Saturday Dan Daza-Jaller (whom blogged last week) and I went to visit TreFontane. This is the place where it is said that St. Paul was martyred by beheading. His head proceeded to bounce three times and each time his head hit the ground a spring began to flow. On our way to TreFontane we encountered a group of Religious Sisters from all over South America, we began to speak to them and realized we were heading to the same spot. Not only did we get a great explanation of the actual church, but we were taken to a tiny grotto where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a man who was very anti-Catholic. There would have been no way for us to get to this Marian Shrine without having met these Sisters. I bring these stories up because one of the goals of the Rome Experience is to create and foster fraternity among us so as to continue this brotherhood in the priesthood (God willing). This fraternal friendship is not only exclusive for our brother priests but also for good and holy Religious Women. We truly encountered that it is very good when brethren dwell as one (Ps 133), especially in Rome.

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“Postcards” from the Class of 2014

June 9, 2014

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WEEK 3:  THE HIGHLIGHTS

I refer to the following three highlights as “The Triduum”:

Sunday, June 1, 2014
After going to Mass at a beautiful Franciscan church just to the side of St. Peter’s Basilica, I along with a few others went to the Regina Caeli led by the Holy Father at St. Peter’s Piazza. I have never been to Rome nor seen the Holy Father in person so I was excited to see the Pope – though not as much as I had anticipated. About five minutes before the Pope was scheduled to appear, I distanced myself from the group and began to pray on what is the significance of seeing the Pope in person is. (The fruit of this prayer is posted below.) Then, as he made his appearance from the window of the Papal Apartments, I found myself having to hold back the cheers I wanted to express for the Holy Father. I found myself with arms up welcoming the Holy Father as he looked at us from his window.

It was the solemnity of the Ascension and he spoke that day of God’s continual presence with us – in particular, he mentioned those persecuted Christians who suffer so much quietly. He asked us all gathered in the piazza if we believe that God is with us. He asked us this same question twice and then had us say out loud: “The Lord is with us!” The Pope also said that Christ offers his wounds to the Father and so we must do the same.

Monday, June 2, 2014
On Monday, Fr. Roger Landry from the diocese of Fall River, led us on tour in St. Peter’s Basilica. We had Mass in the crypt of the Basilica. While the whole morning was full of blessings, I particularly would like to share the experience of participating in the Scavi Tour. This tour is of the excavations that have been done under the structure of St. Peter’s. We walk through what was once the necropolis next to Nero’s Circus. The highlight of the whole tour is the sight of the bones of St. Peter. We stood about 10 feet from where they were returned (where they were originally located) after being examined after they were discovered. They are kept in a see-through container.

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Reflections from the Rome Experience Class of 2013

July 19, 2013

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Top 5 Highlights of Week 6
Luis Pavon
Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Miami

1 – Saints . . . and more Saints

The first highlight of the week was really somewhat of a weeklong highlight. This last full week in Rome we were given plenty of free time in the afternoons. As such, I eagerly took advantage of these open time-slot opportunities to visit and pray at some particular churches in Rome that house the tombs of the saints. Among the many saints that I was able to “visit” were St. John Leonardi, St. Joseph Calasanz, Ss. Bartholomew, Ss. Philip and James, Bl. Anna Maria Taigi, St. Phillip Neri, Bl. Pius XI, St. Lawrence and St. Stephen.

Perhaps the most significant of these “visits” for me was the visit to the tombs of St. Lawrence and St. Stephen in the church of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls – this since I highly esteem these two saints. Indeed, their zealous love for the Lord has always particularly inspired me and, as such, I was eager to be able to pray to them and ask their intercession.

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Reflections from the Rome Experience Class of 2013

June 17, 2013

s francis receives Baby JesusTOP 5 HIGHLIGHTS OF WEEK 4

Alvaro Vega
Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Miami

Rome Experience is a doozy! Visiting majestic basilicas, visiting the tombs of the great saints of the Church and praying alongside them, learning about the rich heritage of art of the Catholic Church, and eating gelato (Italian Ice-cream)!

Here are the top 5 highlights of the week of June 9 – 15:

1. The Sistine Chapel – Visiting this chapel was the highlight of my week. It is the magnum opus of the Vatican Museum, and the very same chapel where popes get elected. It features artwork from some of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, including Michelangelo, Botticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio, and others. Most notable is Michelangelo’s Last Judgment as well as the ceiling he painted with scenes from the Book of Genesis, like the Creation and the Fall. We learned in class that Michelangelo’s forte was in sculpture, not so much in painting. For a guy that didn’t really paint, he really did a magnificent job! One of my favorite parts of the Last Judgment scene was of believers being pulled up to heaven by rosary beads, illustrating the power of this spiritual weapon to get us to heaven and the intercessory power of Our Lady!

2. The Vatican Museum – I loved the different paintings, sculptures, frescoes and other works of art displayed here. The Vatican Museum is quite extensive and made up of several different sections of rooms, and so I didn’t get the chance to see it all. Right when we got to the Vatican Museum I had to go to the bathroom and when I came out my group was gone and the tour had started without me! Oh well. That seemingly unfortunate incident actually turned out to be favorable as it enabled me to just see the art at my own leisurely pace and enjoy it! Among my favorite works were a painting by Pietro Berretini (La Madonna che appare a S.Francesco) of Our Lady appearing to St. Francis of Assisi, handing him the Baby Jesus who is smiling and stretching his arms out towards the friar, happy to be received into his arms. It seems that Francis was out in the woods, steeped in deep contemplative prayer, when suddenly he has this mystical experience. Pictured in the background is one of Francis’ fellow friars, who, unlike his leader, appears to be bored at prayer and is not cognizant of what is happening.

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Class of 2012: Julio De Jesus

April 22, 2012

Julio De Jesus
Archdiocese of Miami
St. Vincent DePaul Regional Seminary

Julio graduated from Florida International University and was pursuing a successful career in the hotel industry when he realized that God wanted more from him.

Julio started attending daily Mass and making changes to his personal prayer life.  He got involved in various activities at his parish- retreats, prayer groups, and volunteer missions.  People started asking if he may have a vocation to the priesthood.  He knew in his heart that the answer was “yes”.

After discerning his vocation with a religious community, Julio joined the diocesan seminary in 2009.  He explained that, “The devotion to Jesus in the most holy Eucharist, the love for our Blessed Mother, faithfulness to the teachings of the Church, and the pastoral work of serving the community helps me see myself as a priest.  It enables me to see myself as one whom, in receiving and living with Christ, will bring Jesus to people every day of my life.”


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