“Postcards” from the Class of 2014

July 31, 2014


For the final leg of the Rome Experience journey before traveling back to the United States, we flew to Spain and spent time in Torreciudad and Barbastro. A transition from a bustling city to a sparsely populated area of Spain.

On Monday we had a day of recollection at the Shrine to Our Lady of Torreciudad.  While reflecting upon my experience in Rome; I thought of how many different languages I heard, the various joys, graces, difficulties and challenges that come with traveling and being in close proximity with the same people for 45 days. I thought of how my interaction with seminarians from around the United States has given me great hope for the Church in America. The size and scope of Rome and the universal Church added a new gravity to the priesthood that I was before not able to concretely grasp.

While in Barbastro we learned about the Claretian martyrs who were killed during the Spanish Civil War. I realized how much faith that must have required and I prayed to God that I might be gifted with that much faith, to able to lay down my life for my faith in Christ and His Church. The example of these men many who were seminarians revealed how much we as men studying for the priesthood need to give to God and also how much God wants to give us if only we are willing to receive.

Our last evening before flying home was spent in Tarragona, Spain. This city lays claim to have been where Paul landed in his travels to Spain. I found this fitting because like Paul who carried the Christian faith from Israel to the whole Roman world we too after spending time in Rome–the heart of the Church–were now preparing to travel back to the United States and share our experiences with the larger Church. Later in our lives, God willing, as priests we will share the Gospel in the many different dioceses we serve and because of our experience in Rome, Ars, and Spain will more effectively be able to share the Gospel message with the American Church.

Jarred Kohn
Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Rome Experience Class of 2014


Reflections from the Rome Experience Class of 2013

June 6, 2013


Andrew Teeter
Seminarian for the Diocese of Madison

1. European kids are something else. There was an interesting encounter on our pre-Rome experience.  T’was in Lourdes, France, which was also our first encounter with the Gypsies. Near our hotel right on the way to the Shrine was a street with a few outdoor vendors and more than a few Gypsies. One of our company was moved to buy one of the Gypsy children a crepe, which is a wonderful thing. When he turned to give the crepe order to the vendor all the kids on that street got in line to get a treat. Of course, they were all fed that day.

2. Lourdes has many devotional places for every popular devotion. Particularly notable are the Stations of the Cross on the hill next to the Basilica. Besides having gilded, life-sized statues the use of natural surroundings helps to bring anyone on the way into the final hours of Christ’s life. Always you walk up through each station until the crest of the hill when all three stations of Jesus on the cross break into view. Then for the final Station, when Jesus is buried, they use a natural cave on the side of the hill which is underneath the crucifixion scene.

3. Torreciudad is a spot of mutual devotion for my brother and me. We first came there two years ago to prepare ourselves along with other pilgrims for the Camino de Santiago and World Youth Day. Torreciudad is an old shrine from the first days of the Reconquista in Spain. When the crusaders retook the tower of the city they put a statue of Mary in it to dedicate their victory to her. From the eleventh century on pilgrims, including St. Josemaria Escriva’s parents, have gone there to ask for the Virgin of Torreciudad’s intercession. St. Josemaria’s parents consecrated him to the Virgin there and he recovered from a serious illness in his childhood.

Reflections from the Rome Experience Class of 2013

June 5, 2013

Manresa Cave St Ignatius Getty ImageON THE PILGRIMAGE TO MANRESA:

Brad Sjoquist
Seminarian for the Diocese of Marquette

A cave is generally thought to be a home for animals. It might shelter people during times when no other shelter is available. It is not a location one normally thinks of as a place to write a famous masterpiece of Christian spirituality. Ignatius Loyola spent somewhere between eight and eleven months in a cave at Manresa composing a retreat known as The Spiritual Exercises. Since the sixteenth century, countless people have done this thirty day long (usually silent) retreat. I was blessed last summer to do the Exercises with the men in my seminary class.

IgnatiusLoyola-PortraitWho was Ignatius? He was a soldier living a fairly worldly lifestyle who was injured in battle. When there were no more books on chivalry for him to read during his recovery, they gave him a life of Christ and a book on the lives of the saints. He began to think, “What if I were to do what St. Francis or St. Dominic did?” He began to realize that different thoughts produced different kinds of interior movements. “When he was thinking about the things of the world, he took much delight in them, but afterwards…he found that he was dry and discontented…but when he thought of going to Jerusalem…not only was he consoled…but even after putting [the thoughts] aside, he remained content and happy.” These internal states would come and go, until one day he began to see how some thoughts brought him feelings of consolation and others had a different effect.

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