By: Mr. Jairon Olmos
Seminarian, Diocese of Providence, RI
Every year, men in formation at Saint John Seminary, have the opportunity to go into communities during the Summer months. This gives them the opportunity to meet people and learn about daily life in a ministry setting under the guidance of an experienced priest. I was assigned to Saint Francis Church in East Providence, RI this summer, which is a Portuguese community. This assignment has been a blessing for my formation and spiritual life. I have been immersed in a Portuguese life and culture (Azoreans).
The Diocese of Providence has a diverse faithful background, and one of them is the Portuguese community. Being with Portuguese people has been a beautiful experience. I have learned about their religious culture, traditions, customs, and food. Also, this pastoral assignment led me to wonder about the different possible ministries as a priest. However, in the first week, I had the enormous challenge of communicating in Portuguese because their accent was different from my Brazilian Portuguese. But now, I am doing well with the new Azorean Portuguese (Azoreans are people who come from a region of islands in Portugal).
The most striking Portuguese tradition was the procession of Saint Francis Xavier with Our Lady of Fatima, Saint Anthony, and Our Lady of the Mt. Carmel. This procession brought me beautiful memories and feelings of popular devotions in my hometown in the Dominican Republic. A lot of people joined the procession with cultural clothes and music. Also, the Domingas, which is a gathering to pray the Rosary and sing hymns around Our Lady of Fatima and the Holy Spirit Crown, was heartwarming. The Domingas showed me the great love that the Portuguese have for Our Lady of Fatima and their devotion to the Holy Spirit.
The celebration of the sacraments is the center of the life of the parish and an excellent opportunity to learn about ministry in a parish community. For this reason, one of my duties is to help prepare the liturgy and serve in the celebration of the sacraments such as Mass, Baptism, funeral Mass, and so on. In the celebration of the sacraments, I see the great faith of the people in Jesus Christ as healer and friend in good times and bad. Nevertheless, in the celebration of many funeral Masses of very faithful and holy parishioners, I could perceive that many of their children and grandchildren do not know how to pray and follow the liturgy of the Mass, which is an indicator of the significant secularization of the society and possible challenge for my future ministerial life.
Finally, nobody can walk alone in the journey of formation and the priesthood. The Diocese of Providence assigned me to Fr. Jorge Rocha as a supervisor. He is a great mentor, humble, and a man of God. Fr. Rocha always explains everything with patience and fraternal correction. I am learning and configuring my life to Christ, priest par excellence. As Saint Francis said, "Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up until now we have done little or nothing [… ] I have done what is mine; may Christ teach you what is yours!”
About the Seminary: Founded in 1884, New England’s oldest Major Seminary, Saint John’s Seminary serves Catholic communities across the New England region and beyond by educating and training men to be Catholic priests and by providing a graduate education in Catholic Theology to laity, deacons, and professed religious who serve the Church in a variety of different ministries.Prayer for Saint John's Seminary