The Dawn of a New Day

The first thing to pierce my consciousness is the shrill tone of my alarm clock interrupting the precious moments of much-needed sleep. I roll over and peer with one eye at the little device that abruptly transported me back to the dark, quiet, and cold reality of the world beyond the warmth of my bed. As my eyes focus, the clock reads 5:00 AM and I slowly awaken, my body beginning its accustomed morning routine: roll out of bed, grasp at remembering what day it is, and press the all-important switch of the coffee maker – marking my official start of a day in the life of a seminarian.

Twenty minutes later and I emerge from the confines of my 15×15 foot room a bit more refined, having showered, dressed, and undergone sufficient caffeination. As I leave the warm abode behind, I begin to acknowledge what the day will entail: several classes, a few reading assignments, some research for an upcoming paper, and maybe – just maybe – a respite during the day’s schedule for the ever-elusive nap. But then questions begin to fill my head, “why am I up this early? – is this what the rest of my life will be like? – are you really cut out for seminary? – really, what is the point of all this…?”

Just as quickly as these questions begin to fester, their tenor begins to fade as I approach a portrait of Mary, Our Lady, the Mother of God. Within her loving gaze, the dull senseless monotony of the morning begins to slip away, replaced with a palpable purpose for not only my day but my life. It is in her eyes that I remember her encouraging words from Cana, “Do whatever He tells you,” as Our Lady ushers me along the last leg of what I cordially refer to as my “morning commute.”


With a newfound semblance of hope, I pass through the doors of St. Bernard’s Chapel, where that hope is transfigured into resplendent recognition of Our Lord present in the Eucharist in front of me. As my eyes adjust to dim surroundings they are drawn to the brightness of the altar, where the monstrance containing the greatest gift ever given to mankind resides. As I kneel and look around, the fraternity of the early morning adorers comes into focus with their gazes transfixed on Christ on the altar. So marks the beginning of my daily Holy Hour.

In this hour with our Lord, I experience God’s greatest gift, His only Son Jesus Christ, as being present before me as part of an indescribable reality beyond compare. At that moment, I do not feel alone, but instead united with Christ in the Eucharist, and through Christ, the fraternity of men praying in that chapel. It is here that my vocation is affirmed in the words, “I will serve,” the same words I uttered over three years ago when I answered the Lord’s call to the Priesthood. In this chapel, my brothers and I witness the dawning of a new day in God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the light of everlasting Life. God gives this gift of his Son – of Himself – to all who ask.

So the question is: How do you start your day?

Tre is in 2nd Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg. Tre’s home parish is St. Joseph’s in Cockeysville. Please pray for Tre!

Saints Want YOU!

It was quite the unusual day in Dublin, Ireland. The weather provided a beautiful summer day in the “Emerald Isle.” Sunny, a gentle breeze, and a nice temperature of 68 degrees. I don’t know about you, but that’s ideal for the end of July!

Around 3:30 in the afternoon, my father and I were making our way down Gardiner Street in central Dublin on our way to Saint Francis Xavier Church, the resting place of Jesuit Blessed Father John Sullivan – a holy priest with whom I share my name. Indeed, I had a bucket list on this trip, and this was the ONLY thing on it.


My father and I arrived at the church only to find it locked up. I’ll be honest, my emotions went haywire. Never did I think the two of us would be sitting on the steps of a Jesuit residence trying to formulate a plan to get into a church. As the saying goes, there is a first time for everything.

“Well, there’s nothing more to do,” I thought “Sitting on steps won’t open a church”… except this time it did. As we started down the steps, a visiting Jesuit priest just turned the corner of the block and walked towards us. Once I asked who he was, I couldn’t have been happier. I said, “Hi Father, my name is John Sullivan. I’m a seminarian, a graduate of a Jesuit university, and I wanted to see the tomb of Blessed John.” Here’s the amazing reply I got: “Well, that sure warrants a special visit!” Guess what? Those doors opened! I should note that my full name is John Russell Sullivan. It has been tradition my entire life to refer to me by my middle name.

This chain of events was no coincidence. My heart was burning, especially when I finally found myself in front of the tomb of Blessed John Sullivan. Yes, there were tears in my eyes! I have a special devotion to Blessed John Sullivan. He was a convert to Catholicism. Being a Jesuit, he was a teacher at an all-male boarding school in Ireland. During his priestly ministry, what stood out the most was the deep love he had for the sick and the dying. When Fr. Sullivan was out and about walking and cycling in County Kildare, you can be assured he was going to visit the sick and the dying!

I ask for his intercession daily. One of the things I ask him to pray for is that God may give me a heart like his for the sick, the suffering, and the dying. Even while he was alive, people recognized the healing power of his prayer to God. There have been miracles of healing attributed to him, hence his cause for canonization!

This special day in July truly showed me the friendship that the saints have with us. They pray for you, and they WANT TO! What do our friends in heaven, being in the presence of God, want to do for us more than pray for us? Nothing!

Blessed John Sullivan and all you holy men and women, pray for us.

Russ is in 2nd Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. Russ’ home parish is St. John the Evangelist in Severna Park. Please pray for Russ!

The Suffering Bride

You and I often go to considerable lengths to avoid suffering. We avoid toil because it is burdensome, we put off fasting because it is painful, or perhaps we withhold our truest self from God in prayer because honesty is frightening and uncomfortable. Although the avoidance of suffering is natural and nothing to be ashamed of per se, experience has taught me that it is often in our suffering and the suffering of others that we encounter our crucified Lord.

During a pastoral assignment last year, I began visiting a homebound woman in her early 50s. She had been unexpectedly crippled by a neurological disease that left her bedridden, and was unable to walk or stand on her own, leaving her husband and children to care for themselves. Even simple speech required great effort, as she couldn’t fill her lungs with enough air to carry a conversation. I was keenly aware of my smallness compared to the scope of her suffering, and her remarks often left me unable to respond. One day she began to cry and said, “I’m afraid… I’m afraid to die.” Not knowing what to do, I acknowledged that death was indeed a fearsome thing and I asked her if she wanted to pray. She nodded ‘yes’, so I read from scripture and prayed familiar prayers. She mumbled along with some of the prayers, and as I was leaving she asked when I was coming back. I visited her often, and later learned what those visits meant to her from her mother, who helped care for her. As I saw it, I had done very little. I’m no orator, and couldn’t speak eloquently about joining her sufferings to those of Christ, nor am I a priest, so I couldn’t bless, absolve, or anoint her. All I could really do was be present to her in her suffering, and yet I kept hearing over and over again from her family what a tremendous difference that made. To me, compassion (from the Latin, compati, to suffer with) seemed an insufficient remedy for her affliction, but I was wrong.


Perhaps the most consoling passages in the Gospel are those which remind me that we are not alone in our suffering. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is seen not only suffering deeply, but willingly choosing to take that suffering upon Himself because He knew it would bring us back to Him. The mystery of Christian theology that is most difficult for me to accept is not the Trinity or Transubstantiation, it’s that an unimaginably perfect God chose to suffer, and He chose to do it for me. Jesus couldn’t stand to be separated from His bride, and preferred to join her even in suffering rather than be separated.

Wherever the bride of Christ is suffering, Jesus is found at Her side. As a seminarian who prepares to take that same bride for his own, I can’t help but consider her state: crippled, wounded, and rejected by the world. Who will come to meet her in her suffering? Who will take on the yoke of Jesus Christ’s priesthood and incarnate the bridegroom, making His healing body present to the battered body of His bride?

The woman I visited soon died. As I was preparing to serve the Mass on the day of her funeral, a parishioner approached me and said, “Funerals are so sad – just think of how she suffered! This must be one of the worst parts of your job.” Surprised, I stammered out something about how it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t until later in prayer that I began to realize how wrong that was. Being present to the suffering bride isn’t one of the worst parts of my “job”, it is certainly one of the best.

Mike is in 3rd Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. Michael’s home parish is St. Peter’s in Libertytown. Please pray for Mike!

Seminary and Top Gun: Maverick

During this summer, I was able to see the newly released Top Gun Maverick, a sequel 36 years in the making. It was a joy to see actors return from the original like Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and new actors like Miles Teller and Glen Powell. The movie was a favorite this summer: upon my second viewing, I even had some thoughts about how God works in my life. Spoiler alert if you have not seen the film!

In the movie, we see how Maverick is always saved by his former wingman Iceman especially when others around him want him kicked out of the Navy. Reflecting on this, I thought about the graces that the Lord has bestowed on me over the years to do his will especially in situations I had doubts and fears. It was a good reminder of his faithfulness and friendship in my life just as Iceman’s friendship with Maverick was instrumental in Maverick accomplishing his goals.

Another point of reflection was when Iceman counsels Maverick that it’s time to let go of feeling responsible for his friend’s death. Letting go of his past thoughts of being responsible for his friend’s death reminded me of how God calls me each day to a new day. Each new day brings mercy and the opportunity to trust even more in my adventure with God. Just like Iceman had a plan for Maverick which was only accomplished when Maverick let go of his memories and guilt, so for me the Lord has a plan for me and my life, but I must be open and trust in God's loving plan.

In the movie, Maverick’s goal wasn’t just to teach the elite squad how to do a job on the mission: he also wanted them to believe in themselves and know that the task is possible. Reflecting on this, I couldn’t help but see how God has put many priests, seminarian brothers, and friends in my life who daily inspire, encourage, and challenge me to live and grow in my relationship with Christ especially on days when prayer seems challenging.

Finally, an important insight into the movie was when Maverick takes the hit that was intended for Goose. This moment in the movie reminds me of how Jesus is constantly on our side and how His Passion on the cross saves us from sin and that I have the opportunity to tap into that fount of grace through the sacrament of the Eucharist and Confession.

The purpose of the mission was to destroy the nuclear plant, but it took a lot of planning, training, and weeks to prepare for the attack. As I was leaving the theater thinking about this, I was struck by comparing their complicated, in-depth mission with the years of formation, planning, and preparation that seminarians undergo before priestly ordination. I know that he has a plan for me, there is a lot of training (formation) and just like the team needs each other for success, the seminarian isn’t alone on this journey. He has the guidance of the Church and brother seminarians who accompany him on this journey!

Pascal is in 4th College Seminary at St. John Paul II Seminary in Washington. Pascal’s home parish is St. Louis in Clarksville. Please pray for Pascal!

La Eucaristía

“Si quieres salvar mil almas, hazte Sacerdote. Si quieres salvar 10,000 almas, conviértete en un Sacerdote que sepa español”. Escuché estas palabras durante una homilía en mi primer año de seminario en 2019. Estas palabras aumentaron mi deseo de aprender español. Buscando cumplir este deseo, otro seminarista de Baltimore, John Anderson, y yo recibimos permiso para participar en un programa de inmersión en español por 7 semanas en Antigua, Guatemala durante el verano de 2022 (este verano).

Mientras estoy escribiendo este blog, acabo de terminar el viaje de inmersión: ¡qué experiencia tan increíble! En el transcurso de 7 semanas, recibí 135 horas de instrucción de clase uno a uno (4 horas por día), algo que ayudó mucho a mis habilidades y confianza para hablar español. Ahora, puedo decir que este programa de inmersión ha sido uno de los mejores regalos de Dios que he recibido por varias razones: lingüísticamente, espiritualmente, culturalmente y más.

Sin duda, progresar mucho en mi habilidad para hablar español fue una oportunidad increíble. Sin embargo, algo más me impactó aún más, algo que supera el lenguaje por completo. En Antigua, la Solemnidad del Corpus Christi, la fiesta en la que la Iglesia celebra la Presencia Real de Jesucristo en la Eucaristía, es una celebración magnífica. Este año, el Corpus Christi ocurrió el domingo 19 de junio, pero en Antigua, ¡se celebra durante unas 3 a 4 semanas! Y no es una celebración ordinaria: los fuegos artificiales se lanzan a cualquier hora del día o de la noche, ¡incluso a las 3 a. m.! Además, hay varias procesiones eucarísticas de varias horas en la ciudad acompañadas de numerosos fuegos artificiales y grandes bandas de música. Tuve el privilegio de asistir a la procesión más grande de todas (que está en el centro de la ciudad), y cuando la Eucaristía salió de la iglesia y entró a la calle, ¡fueron fuegos artificiales durante 4 minutos seguidos! El ruido era ensordecedor, pero era un testimonio increíble de la fe católica de la gente. La gente de Antigua conoce una verdad fundamental: ¡que Jesús está verdaderamente presente con ellos, presente con ellos en la Eucaristía! Ésta es la razón por la que celebran el Corpus Christi de la forma en que lo hacen. Saben que el Rey del Universo está en medio de ellos. Estando en esa procesión, yo pensé: “Wow, el Rey realmente está aquí, y Su pueblo se regocija porque Él está presente”. Este fue el momento más impactante durante mi tiempo en Guatemala.


Pero alguien podría decir: “¿Cómo se relaciona esto con aprender español?” ¿Está mal que esto haya sido la parte más impactante de mi experiencia de inmersión? No lo creo, y por esta razón: Jesucristo es el núcleo mismo de nuestra fe Católica, y dado que la Sagrada Eucaristía es Jesucristo mismo, deberíamos decir que la Sagrada Eucaristía está en el centro mismo de nuestra fe Católica. Ser Cristiano y seguir a Jesús implica estar cerca del Señor Eucarístico. ¡Él quiere que todo Su pueblo esté cerca de Él en la Eucaristía! Sin embargo, para mí, ésta es una verdad que necesito recordar constantemente, y sé que no soy el único. El Señor profundiza y nos recuerda esta verdad de varias maneras, y para mí, presenciar las extravagantes celebraciones del Corpus Christi en Antigua sirvió para profundizar mi conciencia de la Presencia Eucarística de Jesús. Esta conciencia de la Presencia del Señor sirve como base para la vida del discípulo Cristiano, especialmente para la vida de los Sacerdotes y seminaristas. Incluso si estuviéramos equipados con la capacidad de hablar una multitud de idiomas, nuestras vidas serían estériles sin un encuentro personal con el Señor Eucarístico. Sin embargo, por otro lado, vivir desde un lugar de encuentro profundo con el Señor Eucarístico permitirá que cualquier don, como la capacidad de hablar español y otros innumerables dones, florezca para la gloria de Dios y la salvación del mundo entero.

Alex está en segundo grado de teología en el Seminario Santa María del Monte en Emmitsburg. La parroquia de origen de Alex es la Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción en Baltimore. ¡Oremos por Alex!

The Eucharist

“If you want to save a thousand souls, become a Priest. If you want to save 10,000 souls, become a Priest who knows Spanish.” I heard these words during a homily in my first year of seminary in 2019. These words served to increase an already-present desire within me to learn the Spanish language. Seeking to act upon this desire,a brother Baltimore seminarian, John Anderson, and I received permission to go on a 7-week summer Spanish immersion program in Antigua, Guatemala during the Summer of 2022 (this summer).

As I am currently writing this blogpost, I have just finished the immersion trip – what an amazing experience! Over the course of 7 weeks, I received 135 hours of one-on-one class instruction (4 hours per day), something which greatly aided my Spanish-speaking skills and confidence. I can say that this immersion program has been one of the greatest gifts from God that I have ever received for several reasons: linguistically, spiritually, culturally, and more.

Without a doubt, greatly progressing in my ability to speak Spanish was an incredible opportunity. However, something else made an even greater impact on me, something that surpasses language altogether. In Antigua, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the feast in which the Church celebrates the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, is an awe-inspiring celebration. This year Corpus Christi fell on Sunday, June 19, but in Antigua, it is celebrated for about 3 to 4 weeks! And it is no ordinary celebration – fireworks are set off at any time of day or night – even 3am! In addition, there are several multi-hour Eucharistic processions in the city accompanied by numerous fireworks and large brass bands. I had the privilege of attending the biggest procession of them all (which is at the center of the city), and when the Eucharist came out from the church and entered into the street, fireworks were set off for 4 straight minutes! The noise was deafening, but it was an incredible witness of the people’s Catholic Faith. The people in Antigua know a core truth – that Jesus is truly present with them, present with them in the Eucharist! This is the reason they celebrate Corpus Christi in the way that they do. They know that the King of the Universe is in their midst. Being in that procession, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, the King is really here, and His people are rejoicing because He is present.” This was the most impactful moment during my time in Guatemala.


But someone might say, “What does this have to do with learning Spanish?” Is it wrong that this was the most impactful part of my immersion experience? I don’t think so, and for this reason: Jesus Christ is the very core of our Catholic Faith, and since the Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ Himself, we should say that the Holy Eucharist is at the very core of our Catholic Faith. Being a Christian and following Jesus entails being close to the Eucharistic Lord – He wants all of His people to be close to Him in the Eucharist! However, for me, this is a truth I need to be constantly reminded of, and I know that I am not the only one. The Lord deepens and reminds us of this truth in various ways, and for me, witnessing the extravagant Corpus Christi celebrations in Antigua served to deepen my awareness of Jesus’s Eucharistic Presence. This awareness of the Lord’s Presence serves as a bedrock for the Christian disciple’s life, especially for the life of Priests and seminarians. Even if equipped with the ability to speak a multitude of languages, our lives will be sterile without a personal encounter with the Eucharistic Lord. However, on the other hand, living from a place of deep encounter with the Eucharistic Lord will allow for any gifts, such as the ability to speak Spanish and countless others, to flourish to the glory of God and the salvation of the entire world.

Alex is in 2nd Theology at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg. Alex’s home parish is The Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption in Baltimore. Please pray for Alex!

A Call to Prayer and Action

Much like the disciples on the road to Emmaus were not expecting to meet Jesus, I was not at all expecting to meet Jesus when I began working on the Student Government Senate at Catholic University of America this past Fall. As a seminarian on the senate, I knew that I would have some opportunities for ministering to my fellow students, even if it was just a ministry of presence and witnessing to Christ through my actions—but it turns out Christ had something greater planned.

The first part of the semester went about as I expected; the senate debated issues in which I did my best to defend the Catholic values of the University and the interests of my brother seminarians and my fellow students of the School of Philosophy. The final meeting of the fall semester, however, had a much different feel.

The last resolution we debated had to do with how Christ was depicted in a certain piece of art displayed on the campus—an issue deeply dividing our campus and tapping into some of our country’s socio-political crises. Adding my voice to the debate seemed pointless; I figured I would only be repeating what others had said, so I decided to remain silent. But my heart was disturbed; there was a building conviction to say something… I just didn’t know what. As the debate wore on into its second hour, I realized it wasn’t really me who wanted to say something; it was Jesus asking me to say something.

Normally, the senate would meet in the student center, but that night we had moved to Caldwell Hall, part of which is home to a beautiful chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. It struck me how providential it was that we were in a building with Jesus Himself
while we debated art depicting Him. As the debate went on, I felt Jesus stirring my heart to action in the form of prayer for my fellow senators and the university so that He could enter into the hurt at the heart of the issue and begin to heal it. More than that, He was asking me to invite my fellow senators to pray as well – and that scared me! I didn’t want to come off as holier-than-thou or glib in the face of such division, and I didn’t want people mad at me for taking up more time when the clock was already quickly approaching midnight.

Father Jim's First Mass

As the period for open floor approached, I was wrestling internally with myself—but the Lord had set my heart afire with the desire to pray for all the senators and to have them pray as well. So, I stopped fighting, and asked Jesus for the courage to do what He asked. He answered generously. He gave me the ability to invite all present to pray for our university so that this wound of division might be healed. And because He is too good to me, Jesus allowed me to see some of the fruit of my call to prayer: a fellow senator mentioned that it moved him greatly.

This experience changed my entire perspective about my role in the senate. I no longer saw my primary duty as legislative, but as spiritual. In that moment, Jesus made it clear that I was in the student government not only to pray for my fellow senators, but to step out of my comfort zone so that they might pray as well and be brought into a closer relationship with Him. Looking back, I realize that it was Christ the Shepherd I met during that meeting who set my heart afire, asking me to pray and to call others to prayer—and who reminded me that even where I least expect it, there will always be members of His flock to whom I can minister.

Michael is in 1st Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. Hailing from Kansas, Michael’s home parish is St. John the Evangelist in Frederick. Please pray for Michael!

A Personal Invitation Changed My Life

A personal invitation 24 years ago changed my life.

A colleague at work, Paul Carswell, invited me to go to lunch with him. He was a deeply committed evangelical Protestant familiar with the Bible, and he knew I was a Catholic. I was a little apprehensive because I thought that he was going to ask me why I believed in those
particularly Catholic beliefs such as the pope, Mary, the saints, sacraments, etc. and I didn’t have a good biblical answer.

In the two weeks before the lunch, I actively searched the internet and discovered to my amazement the writings of Scott Hahn, a staunchly anti-Catholic evangelical Protestant pastor and biblical scholar who, after a considerable period of intense study of the early Church Fathers and Scripture, converted to Catholicism. I stayed up late each night eagerly reading Hahn’s writings and learned, to my relief, that what the Catholic Church teaches is deeply rooted in Scripture. One example is that the closest possible personal relationship we can have with Jesus is to become spiritually and physically united with him in His flesh, the Eucharist (John 6:52-57)—the “most profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32)—in the liturgical community of the Church where the new covenant of Jesus’ blood (Luke 22:20) makes Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his resurrected body truly sacramentally present at Mass, a covenantal fulfillment alluded to in many books of the Old and New Testaments.

Father Jim's First Mass

This “opening of the Scripture”—like Jesus did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus—was life-changing for me. It began a 24-year fascinating journey (which continues today) of discovery of Catholic teaching preserved in Scripture and Tradition by the Church for 2000
years. It was life-changing for Paul too: as I shared with him what I was learning, he undertook several years of concentrated study of the early Church and Scripture and converted to Catholicism.

The Lord worked mightily through Paul in a way that neither he nor I could have imagined. And it all started with an invitation.

I never cease to be amazed at the great grace and love God pours into our hearts (Rom 5:5) when we, like Paul, participate in the Holy Spirit’s work of conversion by reaching out to others and inviting them to encounter Christ. Personal invitations—such as inviting someone to join you at Mass or Eucharistic Adoration or a parish event or ministry you’re enthusiastic about, or to a meal to mutually share your faith—stretch us, keep us on our knees pleading for God’s grace, and bear much fruit because it’s the Holy Spirit who’s at work in us as His instruments. I’ve experienced this hundreds of times talking with fellow travelers on the airplane, some of which resulted in conversions to Christ and others who decided to return to practicing their Catholic faith. Jesus sent his disciples “to every town and place where he himself intended to go” (Luke 10:1), and calls us to do the same: to prepare the hearts and minds of those we know so that Jesus can enter their lives (Rev 3:20).

When we do this—when we go “out on a limb” like Zacchaeus—and invite others directly or indirectly to encounter Christ, the Holy Spirit moves hearts. I’m reminded of the “3 in 1” initiatives that I’ve introduced in three parishes where hundreds of parishioners signed up to the challenge of praying and personally inviting “3 people in 1 year” to parish events, Mass, etc. which resulted in family members returning to the Church for Mass and the sacraments, friends coming to Bible studies or faith sharing groups, and in some cases conversions to Catholicism.

Paul Carswell’s personal invitation changed my life, or, rather, the Holy Spirit changed my life through Paul Carswell. Jesus is ready and waiting to send you and me to those he himself intends to visit, which is every person He has brought into your life and mine. Do we pray to hear His invitation?

Father Jim Bors graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD in May 2022 and was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ on June 18, 2022 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. His home parish is St. Andrew by the Bay near Annapolis, and he has been
assigned as Associate Pastor to the Pastorate of Our Lady of the Chesapeake in Pasadena and St. Jane Frances de Chantal in Riviera Beach effective July 1. Please pray for Father Jim Bors.

Do not be afraid of your love for the people of God

We recently had an evening of recollection at St. Mary’s Seminary & University, led by Fr. Carter Griffin, the rector of the St. John Paul II Seminary in Washington, D.C. These evenings and days of recollection in the seminary are great opportunities to retreat with Jesus into the wilderness to pray and commune with our Heavenly Father. I especially enjoy these days because they are another chance for me to intentionally enter into deeper prayer and recharge my spiritual batteries, drawing from the source of life and love Himself.

On this occasion, a phrase that Fr. Griffin offered us to reflect upon stuck with me. He said, “Brothers, do not be afraid of your love for the people of God.” This was a reminder that what we are doing in the seminary (studying theology and being formed into good and holy men in ministry) is important work, but there are people for whom this formation is geared toward: service to and love for God and His Church.

Reflecting on this powerful line from our evening of recollection, I couldn’t help but think back on the many moments in which my love for God and His people has grown. One of the first moments that came to mind was from an experience over my pastoral year at St. Joseph Parish in Cockeysville.

I was asked by the pastor to bring the Eucharist to a couple who were homebound during the pandemic. This couple was unable to come back to church because the wife had been diagnosed with late-stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. By the time I met this couple, the wife was already bedbound, but she still had some mobility from the neck up and could still speak. She was overcome with joy and excitement every time I came to visit, and especially when preparing to receive our Lord in the Eucharist.

Over my months of visiting, I witnessed this woman deteriorate so quickly that my visits changed from conversations to simply being present with her and her husband. I learned soon enough that I was not just ministering to her but to her family as well. In all of this, I was moved by her husband in a powerful way. For all those months, I observed how he took such careful and tender care of his wife, from repositioning her for a comfortable view out the window and holding her hand as he read the Scriptures of the day to her. And he stayed so very strong for her. Every move he made and every word he spoke had a tenderness that can only have come from his profound love for her. She persevered until she was called home by the Lord in April 2021. To this day, I continue to keep in touch with the husband, and I continue to be amazed by his faith in God.

My visits with this couple awoke a desire deep within me for this same kind of love for God’s people. I have a profound yearning to give of myself for the sake of my future bride, the Church. Fr. Griffin’s words during that evening of recollection could not ring truer: “Do not be afraid of your love for the people of God.” They will teach you in so many countless ways.

Javier preaching.

Javier Fuentes is in 3rd Theology at Saint Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, MD and, please God, will be ordained a deacon
on May 21, 2022. Javier’s home parish is St.John’s in Frederick. Please pray for Javier!

Wherever You’re Going, Lord

The words Quo Vadis (i.e. where are you going?) have constantly stirred a burning desire in my heart since I first came across them nine years ago. I ask myself that every morning: “Dan, where are you going today?” If discernment is a daily endeavor, then it requires a daily “yes” to our Lord. In John 13, St. Peter asked our Lord, “Where are you going?” My question was more like, “Lord, where are you leading
me?” or in other words, “Lord, where are we going?” The Lord has asked me to join him on this journey of faith, and when he asks me, “Dan, where are you going?”, I respond, “Wherever you’re going, Lord”. At this point, God-willing, He is leading me to the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, where I am slated to be ordained with eight great men to the transitional diaconate on May 21.

In the summer of 2013, I participated in the first Quo Vadis Days at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Quo Vadis Days has helped many young men discern God’s will for their life. While we would love for every young man to walk away with a desire to enter seminary, what we want more than anything else is for them to grow in love and understanding of how to follow Christ Jesus and His Church. After my experience, it was clear that our Lord wanted me to enter the seminary. I had no idea that “The Mount” would become my future home where I’d train to serve Christ’s flock as a priest.

Praying in the mountains

I had a very powerful experience at that first Quo Vadis. My favorite aspect of those days was the fraternity I shared with my future diocesan brothers, most of whom are now priests. That was probably the most powerful moment of Quo Vadis for me: God gifting me with diocesan brothers to accompany me on the spiritual journey. They gave me excellent advice that helped me on my own discernment journey, especially the essential component of being patient with oneself! We are often much harder on ourselves than God is with us. Discernment takes one step at a time, one day at a time. When we fall, we get back up and run straight to God, Who gives us the grace to move forward. It was at those same Quo Vadis Days that I prayed my first Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. Of course I lasted about ten minutes before entering into the “Gethsemane Prayer of St. Peter”! But it was a powerful moment where I learned that one hears the voice of God in the silence of prayer.

It is my hope that Quo Vadis Days continues to have a powerful effect on the young men of this archdiocese as it had on me. I encourage any young man who might be reading this to be bold and to seriously consider attending Quo Vadis Days, just so you can hear Jesus ask you the same question He asked me back in 2013: Where are we going?

Dan Acquard is in 3rd Theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD and, please God, will be ordained a deacon on May 21, 2022. Dan’s home parish is St. Francis of Assisi in Fulton. Please pray for Dan!