Saturday, June 10, 2006

One Year Later: How Do You Feel?

Matt Hardesty, twin brother of my good friend, Nick, keeps a blog (the school of Mary) and recently posted this article about his first year in the seminary:
Young Adult Life
Young seminarian offers a reflection on his first year of studies
Matthew Hardesty
Guest Columnist

“Be renewed in the spirit of your mind: And put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)

The Record, May 24, 2006 -

I have been thinking much about this particular verse in Scripture as I approach the end of my first year of seminary at St. Mary Seminary and University in Baltimore.

Benedictine Abbot Lambert Reilly, former archabbot of St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana, translates the first part of this passage to say, “Your inmost being must be renewed.” Certainly, deep and profound change must occur in a young man from the time he enters seminary to the time, God willing, he is ordained. I would like to share with you some thoughts on my first year of this formation.

Much has happened since I last wrote in this space about my initial reactions to seminary. I am now more confident in life at the seminary and have grown accustomed to the daily routine of prayer and classes. During my second semester I have taken the second half of introduction to Catholic theology, philosophical ethics, Latin I, introduction to Scripture, history of philosophy II and metaphysics.

Philosophy has been stimulating but also challenging as it prepares me for theological studies. But life at St. Mary’s has not been totally consumed with classes. There have been many other experiences throughout the year that have contributed to my overall growth.

I have been able to pray twice a month with other seminarians at the local abortion clinic to practice the theological virtues that we learn about in class. And going to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January, with the entire seminary community, was a wonderful opportunity to witness with others to the Gospel of life on a broad scale.

My “pastoral placement” has also brought me much fulfillment. Three other seminarians and I develop the necessary pastoral skills we will need to serve the people of God by tutoring inner-city adults, young and old, who are studying for the general education development (G.E.D.) test. Their motivation and initiative are inspirational.

I am glad to be able to share the gifts that the Lord has given me, and am honored to listen to the many different stories of those who have decided to change their lives, with the G.E.D. as a first step to making this happen. Our study sessions have also given me the opportunity to practice sharing my faith with others in many different ways.

For me, perhaps the most important experiences have been the various liturgies that I have participated in. There have been large Masses, such as the Vigil Mass for Life before the march in Washington and the Mass celebrating the 50 years of priesthood and 25 years of episcopacy of Baltimore’s Cardinal William Keeler.

Being able to attend smaller Masses at different parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore has given me a greater appreciation for the universality and diversity of the Catholic church. The daily liturgies at St. Mary’s also have given me the spiritual nourishment I need to continue in formation and to grow in holiness.

Receiving the Ministry of Lector, making me an “official” reader at Mass, has been a tremendous blessing. Serving at different parishes in Louisville during Christmas and Easter breaks also has brought me closer to the altar and given me a taste for what God holds for me in the future.

Your prayers and support have helped me tremendously, as have your letters and cards, such as those from the students at Immaculate Conception in LaGrange, Ky. They bring me much joy.

This summer I will be staying in the rectory at St. Rita Church on Preston Highway and working with Father Robert Ray at St. Jerome Church in Fairdale, Ky., and St. Mary Church in Bullitt County. Please pray for me as I enter this next step in my formation, that through Mary’s intercession I might grow “in justice and holiness of truth.”

Matthew Hardesty is a young adult seminarian at St. Mary Seminary and University in Baltimore.
Article originally published to The Record

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