This week marks the close of the academic year. Seminarians are preparing for final exams before the end of the year barbeque on Wednesday. Then they will be off to assignments in parishes for the summer. These concluding days of the school year afford us an opportunity to recall why the seminary exists in the first place.
St. Jean Marie Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, reminds us that the priesthood is the love of the heart of Christ. He doesn’t say the priest should have a devotion to the sacred heart—although, of course, he should. Rather, our priestly patron reminds us that priests are an expression of Christ’s love. Because Jesus loves His Church, He sends priests.
The seminary is a continuation of the apostolic community—those gathered around the Lord to learn from Him and grow to be more like Him. What a privileged place to live and work. Here at Saint John’s the men are on fire in love with the Lord. They are convinced that Jesus Christ has called them here—to pray and study, to grow and to learn. They are here to put out into the deep waters of faith and rely more and more on the Lord. Saint John’s is a place of fraternal charity where men strive to grow in holiness. They desire to learn and to allow the Lord to shape them into the priests God’s holy people deserve. Because God loves His people so much, He send them His priests.
The people of our time are hungry and hurting. God sends priests to feed and forgive. Priests teach people the faith. They preach authentically, handing down the saving truths we need for salvation. Priests sanctify God’s people through the administration of His Sacraments. With every baptism and holy anointing, with every confession and holy Eucharist, Christ comes to meet His people and strengthen them with His grace. As the Holy Father says, priests need to be mediators not managers. Priests govern God’s holy people in charity, drawing them into the bonds of the Church.
To become gentle and courageous shepherds the future priests of New England and beyond come here to Brighton. Here at Saint John’s Seminary, they learn to become the kind of priests that God’s people deserve. Here they are formed to be shepherds after the heart of Christ. As the academic year comes to a close this week, we give thanks to God once again for His sending us men to be shepherds after His own heart. Through their formation here, they seek to become instruments of His mercy and preachers of divine wisdom.
Forming Disciples. Proclaiming Jesus Christ.
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