Seminarians grateful for firsthand pastoral experiences

North Texas Catholic
(Aug 12, 2021) Local

Fort Worth Seminarians

From left: Jacob Zimmerer, Peter Nguyen, Javier Escutia, and Michael Marincel hang out on the roof a parishioner's home in Strawn after receiving a tour, July 14, 2021. The four seminarians spent their summer pastoral assignments at St. John in Strawn, St. Rita in Ranger, St. Francis Xavier in Eastland, and Holy Rosary in Cisco. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

STRAWN — After not seeing much time in parishes last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, seminarians for the Diocese of Fort Worth are grateful for the firsthand lessons they experienced this summer throughout the diocese.

For 40 days this summer, four of those seminarians, Michael Marincel, Peter Nguyen, Javier Escutia, and Jacob Zimmerer, assisted Father Vijaya “VJ” Mareedu, pastor of St. John in Strawn, St. Rita in Ranger, Holy Rosary in Cisco, and St. Francis Xavier in Eastland, in his day-to-day pastoral work.

“It was definitely an eye-opening experience into the life of a priest,” Escutia said. “That a priest doesn’t have time to sit around, he is pretty active. Just seeing how Fr. Vijay — a lot of his time is taken up with sick calls, taking care of all the pastoral needs of his parishioners and parishes.”

During the summer months, seminarians receive assignments that expose them to parish life and other ministries.

The four seminarians assigned to Fr. Vijay’s care stayed busy running two Vacation Bible Schools for youth of the four churches; paying visits to parishioners at their homes to pray the Sacred Heart enthronement and share a meal with them; and, of course, assisting at almost every liturgy in that span (about 50 by one seminarian’s estimate). They also pitched in with odd jobs around the church community, like doing landscape work and feeding cattle.

“It was a really cool experience,” Marincel said of paying pastoral visits to families. “I was amazed at how warmly the families welcomed us. We would show up on their doorsteps and it’s like we were family already.”

Due to the pandemic, no seminarians were assigned to parishes over the summer last year. Rather they were appointed to departments at the Catholic Center, like the Chancery, Catechesis, or the Vocations Office.

Fort Worth Seminarians

Seminarian Michael Marincel holds a framed print as (from left) Jacob Zimmerer, Javier Escutia, and Peter Nguyen listen to some family history from "Mama Jac" in her home on July 14, 2021 in Strawn. They paid house visits to parishioners of four rural churches to pray and fellowship. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

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