Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"To be a priest means sacrifice" (Washington Post front-page article)

I hope that you all saw the front page story in the Washington Post last Friday about seminarians at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg (my alma mater). There was a picture of the Blessed Mother on the front page of the Post! The article itself was fair and positive. It was well done. It briefly paints a picture of life in the seminary in the midst of troubled times in the Church. It presents both the human and spiritual elements of formation for the priesthood. The rector and seminarians, including my buddy, Deacon Dave Wells, did an excellent job. Hopefully, our five seminarians from the Newman Center will shine like these guys when they get their 15 minutes of fame.

Below are excerpts from the article. To view it in full, please click on today’s title.

Budding priests in a time of crisis:
Seminarians enter scandal-scarred vocation

...For some seminarians, the abuse crisis only made them want to be priests more.

"It invoked that almost boyhood drive to be a hero," said Matt Rolling, 27, a soft-spoken student from Nebraska. "You want to help the church restore its name. You want to be an example of what the priesthood really represents."

To be a priest, Rolling said, means sacrifice. For him, answering God's call meant abandoning all his careful plans -- a career as a forest ranger, the girlfriend he'd been dating for three years at the University of Nebraska, the prospect of marriage and children.

Even now, he said, there are times when he feels a desire for a wife and family. And, of course, there is the issue of sex.

"It's not like when you become a deacon or priest, the hormones somehow shut off," he said. "There are temptations. There are doubts. How do you deal with that? You try to realize that temptation comes from the devil and salvation comes from God. You pray for that salvation. You build up the spiritual strength to look past the distraction. . . . When I see a girl, I try to think, 'If this were my daughter, how would I feel if someone looked at her that way, if someone mistreated her?' You try to move into that role of a father, which is what you're supposed to be, in a sense, as a priest."

Embracing celibacy at Mount St. Mary's is complicated by the fact that the seminary is housed on the same campus as a college, with a student body that includes plenty of young women.

Strolling through a lush garden dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Dave Wells, one of Rolling's close friends, put it this way: "I don't want to sound like it's the only thing we think about, but, yes, it can be tough."
Midway through the conversation, two girls in tight running clothes jogged by. Wells's eyes, however, remained fixed on a statue of Mary.

"It's good practice for us," he said later, "because in the parishes, we'll be surrounded and ministering to women, too. You may as well get used to it now."

Not everyone, however, can. About 15 percent of the seminarians leave without finishing. In the past year alone, Wells has attended two weddings for former seminarians in his class.

"Some of us are called to be fathers in the natural sense," he said. "Some are called in the spiritual sense."

1 comment:

Matt Shoemaker said...

Father! This article was fantastic! My parents read the article and were really impressed with it as well. It was great to see that the Post can write some really good articles when they put their minds to it. Thanks for linking this!