by Michael McHale
It’s been only a few weeks since I began life as a seminarian at St. Gregory the Great Seminary. I admit, the 6:30 a.m. mornings, the mechanics of the breviary, and returning to dorm life have required no small adjustment.
But it is already clear that St. Gregory’s is a place where one can encounter Christ in my brother seminarians. Each is responding to a call from our Lord – a stirring of the heart – to enter formation ordered toward service to Christ and His Church in the ministerial priesthood.
St. Gregory’s is also rich with the spiritual fingerprints of the great saints and traditions of the Church, from the Benedictine choir stalls where we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, to the Chapel of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which was dedicated in 2000 by Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, and whose cornerstone was blessed by St. John Paul II himself.
St. Gregory’s, which is tucked away on the southern edge of the small community of Seward, is generally rather hidden from the rest of the world. Each year, however, the public is welcome to stop by during a number of “Visitor Sundays” to tour the campus and meet seminarians, faculty priests, and our resident religious sisters. This fall, Visitor Sundays will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 14, Oct. 12 and Nov. 16. I encourage you to mark your calendars and to experience Christ and His Church in a special way at St. Gregory’s this fall. Here you will meet seminarians from around the country, spanning from the Dioceses of Santa Rosa, Calif., to Rockford, Ill., and from Denver; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Fargo, N.D.; and Kansas City/St. Joseph, Mo., in between. Of course, most of the seminarians here represent the Lincoln Diocese, including an incoming class of 13 men, ranging in ages from 19 to 28. Altogether we have 48 men currently being formed for the priesthood at St. Gregory’s.
During your visit, you can also explore the campus alongside an experienced seminarian. You can visit the library with its 45,000 books, the fishing pond with its fresh supply of future Friday meals, and the refurbished “refectory,” or dining hall, which was significantly renovated this summer.
You can also spend time in the same chapel that nurtures the spiritual lives of so many future priests. And you can learn about the stunning religious imagery that inspires us throughout our days – like the St. Thérèse window in our Marian chapel or the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus just inside the front entrance.
Most of all, you can meet Christ in the presence of discerning seminarians, who have come here to pursue the longings of their hearts, and who are always refreshed by interested visitors.
Even after a few short weeks, it’s evident to me that St. Gregory’s is a vital organ of the Lincoln Diocese, and of the Catholic Church in America. I encourage you to visit St. Gregory’s on a Visitor Sunday and to renew your faith that Jesus Christ is love personified — the one “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands…” (1 John 1:1).