Last August, when I first arrived at St. Joseph Seminary College, I had little idea what I was getting myself into. Although I had been to the annual Abbey Youth Fest all four years of high school, I had never visited or even seen the seminary campus. Even as I write this now, I am amazed at just how little I knew about my school, informally known as St. Ben’s because of its Benedictine heritage.
As one may guess, seminary is not like regular college. Not at all, in fact. For example, when I was a student at South Alabama last year, outside of attending class I was able to set my own schedule and dress, eat, and do as I pleased. But in seminary, there is not so much a strict schedule as there is a constant flurry of activities and projects. When I was attending USA, my brother and I commuted five days a week from Fairhope to Mobile, an hour and a half round trip, and I worked an afternoon job in Fairhope. But even that schedule was not as hectic as the seminary’s. There is also a dress code that is literally quite black and white. And most importantly, there is emphasized a strange and alien concept called obedience which is difficult to live out.
In the end, I was thankful that I had so few expectations about my school, since the ones I had were quickly shattered. When such shatterings occur, it is easy to get discouraged. But these and other testings of our faith only make us turn to God all the more. In my experience, the difficulties I have experienced in my first semester of seminary have only confirmed the fact that yes, God does want me here. To put it simply, I am still only nineteen. I cannot say with confidence that I am called to be a priest, but I can say that I am called to be a seminarian. At the end of a long day of prayer, classes, choir practices, and a host of other projects, I am forced to put aside my complaints and admit that it is all worth it, since I can honestly say that I despite my failures, I am going to bed a better man than I was when I woke up. I hope y’all have a safe and happy Mardi Gras. Thank you for your constant prayers and support. God bless!
Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.