By: Fr. Peter Schirripa, Class of 2023
Before walking out of class for the final time at Saint John’s Seminary, I listened to Father Briody read a line from For Eternity, Cardinal Sarah’s most recent work on the priesthood. After hearing these words, I wrote them down on a notecard which I then tucked in the front cover of my Breviary. Since getting ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston on May 20th, these words have been the battle cry of my very brief apostolate. They read, “Every time we read the Gospel, we observe that Jesus always entrusted a responsibility to a person, never to an institution.” (For Eternity, Cardinal Sarah)
In many ways, these words capture the heart of the Catholic faith. As Cardinal Sarah suggests, everything about the way Jesus interacts with us is “personal, absolutely nothing is anonymous.” For this reason, Jesus entrusted the greatest responsibility, the salvation of souls, not to a vague institution, but to a band of brothers. A band of brothers whom He loved, whom He called forth personally.
From all eternity, Jesus saw something in these men that would serve his mission to save every single soul. These twelve men, whose portraits loom large in our chapel, were the means Jesus chose to bring his healing love to the world. Aware of the important role these men played in the Divine plan, Jesus personally invested in each one of them. For Jesus, the formation and the friendship with these men was the most important thing. This is because these men would be entrusted with the care of His beloved people. It would be their responsibility to make every single person know, love and serve God.
Though 2000 years have passed, Jesus has not changed his method. The Catholic Faith is still the same. Jesus reigns and lives among us now just as He did previously. His power is still infinite. Moreover, He still entrusts the salvation of souls to particular persons, not to vague institutions or programs.
In other words, when Jesus walked the shores of Galilee, he had the men of Saint John’s Seminary in mind. His personal look of love beckoned them forward because He wants to use them to save souls. Jesus sees something in these men, and because He sees something in them, you should too.
Pay a visit to Saint John’s Seminary. Whether it’s on the basketball court, in the classroom, the chapel, the choir, the refectory, or the common room, the seminarians' love for one another is palpable. It is pretty easy to see why God chose to personally call these men. I will always cherish my time with the priests and seminarians of Saint John’s Seminary. The loving men of Saint John’s are the men that will baptize your children, anoint the dying, and restore you to God’s friendship in the confessional. Put simply, the men of Saint John’s will prepare you for your ultimate destiny, which is to be with God in heaven. The harvest in New England is abundant and the people of God are blessed that their laborers are formed at Saint John’s Seminary.
When we hear the words of the Gospel this weekend, let’s call to mind that we too are entrusted with this responsibility. Remember what Cardinal Sarah said, these words are personal. God entrusts you, not the parish program, with something. To the young men, get up and follow Jesus’ look of love. Glorifying God and saving souls as a priest is the greatest thing you can do with your life.
You too could come to Saint John’s and sit under the gaze of the great Apostles listed in today’s Gospel. For everyone else, regardless of your state in life, you too have a part to play. Remember, Jesus believed that the formation and friendship of those whom He called was the most important thing.
He invested the most time in the twelve. The same must be true today. Respond to the call of today’s Gospel by supporting Saint John’s Seminary. Helping to build Saint John’s into an even stronger seminary is the best way for you to extend the mission of the Church. Without a strong seminary, we cannot have strong parishes.There is no greater service you could do for the Church of New England and beyond. Afterall, Jesus has personally entrusted you and your relatives to the men in seminary formation. What happens at Saint John’s directly impacts your family.
The men of this house need your prayers to be holy priests. They need your financial support to study under the best professors and to receive the training required to save the souls God entrusted to their care. In just one month as a priest, I’ve never been more convinced that “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” I’ve also never been more grateful for my six years of formation at Saint John’s Seminary. It was in that beautiful building, surrounded by the love of my brothers, that I learned to accept and to love that Jesus sees something in my broken humanity that will serve his mission for the salvation of souls. Together, let us do our part to make Saint John’s Seminary the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston. You too can make Cardinal Sarah’s words the battle cry of your apostolate. Afterall, this mission, bringing the love of Christ to every human person is a personal one. Or, in the words of Cardinal Sarah, “absolutely in no way is it anonymous.” (For Eternity, Cardinal Sarah)