Prayer, community help seminarians persevere
BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
Many aspects of day-to-day life have changed for the eight men currently studying and discerning the priesthood in the Diocese of Owensboro, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But without a doubt, what has remained the most consistent for these seminarians is “the community’s joyful spirit,” said Flynn Mudd, a Diocese of Owensboro seminarian in his junior year at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis.
“Although we have had to modify our lives greatly, the spirit of joy and camaraderie I believe has never been higher,” said Mudd in a Sept. 15 email interview with The Western Kentucky Catholic.
Mudd explained that in order to maintain a healthy community at Bruté, seminarians are encouraged not to go out in public places except in cases of necessity. He said that while at seminary, they are required to wear masks and follow some protocols for social distancing within their own community.
Opportunities for ministry outside the seminary have also been nixed for the time being, in order to ensure the health of the community.
Conrad Jaconette, a seminarian in second philosophy at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind., said the protocols are similar there.
“To keep socially distant, our community has been separated into different chapels and dining rooms,” said Jaconette in a Sept. 15 email interview. “Face masks must be worn at all times, and visitors are not permitted within the building.”
As at Bruté, Jaconette said ministry opportunities are not allowed for St. Meinrad seminarians this semester.
Jaconette said that fortunately, he has felt the support of both his seminary and the diocese for the seminarians’ continuing education.
“The seminary is willing to do whatever it takes to make our formation as seamless as possible,” he said. “The diocese is continuously reaching out with support and prayer.”
Mudd said that as opportunities for ministry have diminished, other areas of growth, “particularly in the areas of human, spiritual and academic” are being enhanced.
“I also believe that as our lives have been constricted in some sense, it allows us to deeply reflect on our daily call to holiness, and our commitment to Our Lord through the aspects of seminary formation,” said Mudd. “This is shown especially through prayer.”
Jaconette said all of his fellow seminarians have a “healthy mindset” and “desire to persevere.”
They all want to become priests – “more specifically, the best priests that we can be,” he said. “To do this requires sacrifice and overcoming hurdles.”
“This pandemic is a hurdle that we must get over in order to be the priest that God needs us to be,” Jaconette added.
“For myself, my brother seminarians here at Bruté have been a source of encouragement, particularly in our return to school,” said Mudd. “No one was certain of how things were going to play out this school year. Nevertheless, all of us can count on each other for guidance during peculiar times.”
Jaconette said his greatest inspiration during the pandemic has come from the people of the diocese.
“Their pure love for God and the sacraments is inspiring,” he said. “This is true faith and is what our Church needs, especially now.”
Originally printed in the October 2020 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.
Copyright © 2020 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic