Back to the Beginning
GRAPEVINE — In elementary and middle school, the last few days of the school year lean more toward celebration than education. But this year, the fourth through eighth grade classes in the diocese took time out from field days and class parties to ask some key questions and learn some important lessons about religious vocations.
Seminarians from the Diocese of Fort Worth visited each elementary and middle school during the last week of school. After introductions, they opened the floor to questions. The students’ questions ranged from the sartorial (“Why do you wear black?”) to the spiritual (“Is lying for a good reason a sin?”).
Sam Maul, who will begin a pastoral year at St. Philip the Apostle in Lewisville in August, turned the tables on the students and asked them questions.
“I like to tell them that I just finished my final exams and one of the questions was ‘Who is Jesus?’ Then I ask them to tell me how I should have answered it,” he said with a grin.
Elementary students at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Grapevine said they had never met a seminarian before. They were astounded that the path to the priesthood can take nine years, and they were relieved to discover that seminarians enjoy sports, own phones, and play video games.
“It was pretty cool to learn what they felt like when they were called to a vocation,” said fifth-grader Daniel Neis. “I asked them if they ever regret it. They told me they have bad days but a lot more good days, and everyone always has some bad days.”
According to Maul, conversations at the elementary schools are “a chance to get to know someone wearing a collar” and learn what it means to be a seminarian.
The future priests expect to establish a tradition of visiting the schools each year. In January, the seminarians were guests at the diocesan high schools.
The high school conversations differ from chats with the younger students, Maul explained. In high school “students are thinking about what they are doing next year. We ask, ‘Do you know what you want to do when you grow up? Do you pray about it?’”
Brandon LeClair just graduated from St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, La. and will begin theology studies in August. He said, “Our presence is to be an example to the children. We are here to show them that they could do this one day.”
Superintendent of Catholic Schools Jennifer Pelletier sees value in having the seminarians “hang out” with the young students. “Boys and girls are drawn to holiness, they are drawn to the truth. When they see the life of a seminarian, they see a religious vocation is an option for them.”