Just Come and See

North Texas Catholic
(Aug 29, 2023) Seeking-Gods-Path

The Diocese of Fort Worth hosted the annual seminarian convocation at Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House on July 25-26, 2023. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

I have just started my new assignment at St. Joseph Seminary in Louisiana where 17 of the 29 seminarians for the Diocese of Fort Worth are studying. More than 100 seminarians from different states and dioceses study here to be priests of Jesus Christ. 

Founded in 1889, the seminary is connected to a Benedictine Monastery. In fact, my great-uncle, Fr. Columban Wenzel, was a monk and priest for the seminary, and one of its founders. So, I am grateful that Bishop Michael Olson has sent me here to form our future priests and follow in my great-uncle’s footsteps! God’s providence is amazing!

With over 1,000 acres, the seminary grounds are conducive to prayer and discernment. As part of their formation, the seminarians have jobs on campus. Some entail working outside with their hands to be in contact with nature and follow St. Benedict’s motto, “Ora et labora” (prayer and work). This helps the seminarians experience the dignity of work, listen to God’s voice through silence, and be accountable to others. 

One can take many trails through the woods for prayer, reflection, or exercise. At night, one can see the heavens — the stars and the moon — reflecting in the tranquil lakes around the seminary. 

There are also many trails through the woods one can take for prayer, reflection, or exercise. At nighttime, one can see the heavens, the stars, and the moon reflecting in the tranquil lakes around the seminary. 

The Abbey Retreat Center at the St. Joseph Abbey in Louisiana. (Courtesy photo https://www.saintjosephabbey.com/retreat-center)

We too can see the heavens, i.e. God, when our souls are at peace and conformed to His Son Jesus Christ. All who come to this place get a taste of the beauty and peace of God.

I invite everyone to come for a retreat, as they have retreat houses and conferences here throughout the year.

But I strongly encourage families to help get their high school sons out here for the Come and See retreat. The retreat, held twice a year, is an opportunity for men to see what the seminary is like, meet seminarians, and hear about their daily life and how Jesus led them to discern the priesthood.

When a young man sees this place and meets the seminarians, he has a better image of what it is like to follow Jesus Christ as a seminarian. Many of our seminarians can attest to the powerful experience they had when they went on the retreat, how God inspired their hearts to be here. 

Most people’s understanding of the seminary is not too accurate. Although seminarians do study and pray a lot, much of the formation takes place in community: living with other seminarians, working with them, developing friendships, learning about one’s own strengths and weaknesses — even learning how to charitably disagree with someone!

Just as St. Benedict knew he and his monks would go crazy if they spent all day in the chapel, so also the seminarian. Healthy leisure is an important part of a seminarian’s life. Sports, movies, and games are some of the recreations they can participate in throughout the week.

Fr. Moon prays the Rosary. (NTC/ Juan Guajardo)

So, when the high school boys come here for the Come and See retreat, they see normal guys who love Jesus. They play sports and games with them outside of the chapel time and conferences. These high schoolers leave the retreat with a better impression of what seminary life is and the thought, “Maybe God is calling me to do this, too.”

Parents, grandparents, godparents: help your high school sons attend this retreat this fall on November 3 to 5 or next spring on March 22 to 24. It is free. Contact the diocese for registration and more details ([email protected]).

Thank you to everyone for your continued support for our seminarians and for helping to foster more vocations in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

May God bless you abundantly for your sacrifices and generosity!

Father Maurice Moon serves as Director of Collegian Seminarian Formation and is on the formation faculty at St. Joseph Seminary College.

See more information about our Diocese of Fort Worth seminarians below:

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