2020 has been the worst year for many people because of the pandemic, economic crisis, and political fighting. However, this year has been an amazing year for me and sixteen young guys who started the new chapter of our lives at Saint John Seminary to follow Jesus in the priestly vocation. We started with a one-month retreat (IPSF-A), which introduces new seminarians to seminary formation. That was a phenomenal experience for me.
My very first impression of the seminary was the holiness of this place. When I went to the main chapel during the Holy Hour, I could see the beauty and holiness of how the priests and the seminarians adored the Blessed Sacrament. I don’t know how to express that tremendous reverence, but it draws me in prayer with Jesus. To be honest, in the beginning, I thought that seminary meant praying at all times from the early morning to late at night, but I was wrong. Seminarians and priests have a lot of fun together while doing gardening, landscaping, or even playing soccer and basketball together. That is the very first lesson we learned from the seminary: to balance our life between spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual.
Secondly, before I went to this retreat, I asked God to give me a motivation to follow him and to be inspired by the beauty of priesthood that many people outside could not recognize. The main problem for me is I saw many priestly scandals, so I could not feel that beauty anymore. I felt like priests now we're more like social workers and CEOs of parishes more than spiritual fathers. Thanks be to God through this retreat, I am inspired by the unity of the Catholic Church through the priests who are the shepherds connecting people. In our society, the severe separation between parties, groups of people, and races is destroying human relationships. It seems like human beings cannot live together anymore. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church and her priests go a different direction. We can see how people can unite in the Mass despite the differences between races, skin colors, and social status. Especially in the IPSF retreat, 17 guys with different backgrounds and careers, ranging from lawyers, engineers, teachers to waiters, and the unemployed can hang out together and go the same direction toward Jesus Christ; how beautiful it is. Different careers like a medical doctor, lawyer, or even businessman cannot bring that beauty and healing to human beings, but Jesus Christ can do that through his instrument that is the priesthood. The priests are the real spiritual fathers when they connect all parishioners into one as a family, which brings me inspiration and hope for the Church in the future.
IPSF-A was an amazing time for me with God, and it helped me to realize how important personal prayer is in my life. I am so grateful for the gift He gave me during this retreat. Now, I am so ready and so excited to write my romantic and adventurous story between me and God and Saint John’s Seminary.