During the first week of November, the Catholic Church celebrated National Vocations Week, highlighting the lives of those who have chosen to make personal sacrifices and live out their days in devotion to their faith. Just down the street from McNicholas High School is Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. The seminary has been training priests, deacons, and lay ministers since 1829, making it the oldest division of the Athenaeum of Ohio. But what is it really like to live at the seminary?
“Each man has his own room equipped with a bathroom. It’s like a dude’s paradise. We have a gym, a couple of community rooms set up with a pool table, ping pong table, and of course, we have two absolutely gorgeous chapels; one for Mass and all our group prayers and then a smaller chapel for private prayers.” said Ethan Moore, a transitional deacon studying to be a priest.
Assistant Professor of Church History and Historical Theology and Director of Field Education at Mt. Saint Mary’s Seminary, Fr. David Endres said “The seminary is a community of about 60 seminarians and 10 priests. We live, work, pray, and recreate together. We share a common purpose in serving the Lord. It is similar to a college dorm — we have everything we need here: cafeteria, library, chapel, and gym. We begin with morning prayer at 6:30 a.m. We have Mass together and then breakfast and class. After classes are over for the day, we join again for prayer and dinner. In the evening we gather together for recreation in ‘Bar Jonah.’”
Seminarian Andrew Wellman said, “The best part about living at the seminary is the people. I have many good friends here, and I am grateful for the chance that we all have to pray and study together. The priests who live with us are great and holy men of God who do all they can to help us on our seminary journey. Life at the seminary is joyful because we work together in our prayer and study as brothers in the Lord.”
However, living at the seminary isn’t always work and no play. “I really enjoy running, playing sports, joking and pranking people, making memories and having good conversation. I love the guys, the schedule of events, the prayer life, the studies,” Moore said.
Andrew Wellman likes to enjoy the attractions of Cincinnati in his free time. “In my free time, I like to watch movies and explore Cincinnati. I enjoy going to Bengals and Reds games, and I always go to Graeter’s when I get the chance.”
Transitional Deacon, Ethan Moore expressed that discovering a vocation to enroll in the seminary isn’t always easy and apparent at first.
“I initially felt God tugging on my heart in college to give Him a chance, but I wasn’t quite ready. After college I worked for three years and finally found myself in a place where really truly all I wanted for my life was what God wanted for me and so I came to seminary. I still wasn’t certain about being a priest but I figured what better place to legitimately find out. So after living the seminary lifestyle for a year I was sold that this was what God was calling me to and I could want nothing more, except maybe a milkshake every once in a while, but He provided for that too by putting a UDF directly across the street,” Moore joked.
“My advice to teenagers is to pray every day.” Fr. Endres stated, saying that a conversation with God is important for choosing a vocation. “First, ask the question. Ask God in prayer: “\’What is your will for me?’ So often we consider what we want out of life, but not what God may be asking of us.”
Seminarian Andrew Wellman advises teenagers to have a friendship with Jesus when choosing a vocation.
“Remember that Jesus is always with you. He is your best friend. Spend time each day talking to him. Tell Him that you love Him, thank Him for the gift of your life, and ask him: ‘Lord Jesus, what do you want me to do for you?’ When we ask Jesus this question, he knows that our hearts are open to his response. Mary sets the best example for us to follow. She was completely open to God’s plan for her life – even though she was afraid and did not have all the answers. Open your heart to Jesus in prayer, and He will always show you the way.”
To be admitted into the seminary, a seminarian must obtain Sponsorship of his local Church and bishop or a religious superior and submit an application with a favorable recommendation to a theologate, complete the appropriate psychological testing and feedback and be found suitable for admission, interview with the Seminary Admissions Committee and receive a favorable review. “God has a plan, a mission, for you, and only you can fulfill it! God, your Father, your Creator, wants to tell you what you were made to do! If you listen closely to Him, He will speak to your heart. There, in the silence, you will hear the voice of Jesus who calls you to do great things and who always walks with you along the way. He will send the Holy Spirit upon you and give you the courage you need to persevere in discerning and living your vocation, your call, from God who loves you more than anything and who wants to bring you great joy!” Wellman said.