I have a prayer list for priests that’s a mile long, and I find myself, every so often, just praying like crazy for some poor Father Someone-or-Other who’s struck my fancy. It’s been a true exploration of my understanding of spiritual motherhood, and it has led me to feel closer to the heart of Christ and of his Church.
Last summer, I realized that I have a “thing” for another group of men within our Church: seminarians. It was the first time our parish had a summer seminarian intern and, while I didn’t have a chance to get to know him too well, he really made a mark on my prayer life and has remained in my thoughts and prayers since then.
He made quite a mark on our parish, too. At our first VBS team meeting, the overwhelming attitude was, “Ask him back to lead a group, because he was AWESOME.” (He wasn’t available. We’re still sobbing.)
This summer, we hosted a seminarian again, and I had a chance to get to know him quite a bit better. Part of it was his involvement in teaching our Confirmation Boot Camp. Part of it was his involvement in our staff meetings and other events. Part of it was my kids’ interest and attraction to him.
I didn’t really think about it beyond “I love these guys” until our parish secretary asked me if I’ve considered the effect it’s having on our parish and our staff to have these sems living among us.
We’re seeing priests before they’re ordained. We’re seeing the seedlings, not yet trees, not yet experienced, not yet ready for the rest of the world. We’re shaping them, and yet, at the same time, they are shaping us as well.
I suspect it’s helping with a hurdle I’ve observed in far too many Catholics: the myth that priests are Something Else (as opposed to real guys of flesh and blood).
They’re real people. They need dinner and socks and advice. They have opinions and quirks and jokes. They make mistakes, just like the rest of us. They have insight we need as we all strive to be disciples together.
They need us as much as we need them. Without these sems and the priests they will hopefully become, there is no Eucharist. Without us, there are no sems. They see in us the hope for their future even as we see in them the future of our Church.
I can’t help but be a different—and a better—mother as a result of the seminarians I’ve had the honor of being influenced by. I can only hope that the chaos and prayers I insert into their lives leads them closer to Christ, too.
Sarah Reinhard’s a Catholic wife, mom, and author whose nose is probably in a book if she’s not scraping something off of her shoes. Her latest book is A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism. Check out all of her books at http://sarahreinhard.com/writing/my-books/.
Visit Sarah’s website: http://sarahreinhard.com/
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