August 16, 2019

Seminarians build fraternity during annual convocation

Archdiocesan seminarians John Geis, left, and Charlie Wessel share strategies during a duckpin bowling session on Aug. 6 at Action Duckpin Bowl in Indianapolis. The bowling session was part of the annual convocation for archdiocesan seminarians. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archdiocesan seminarians John Geis, left, and Charlie Wessel share strategies during a duckpin bowling session on Aug. 6 at Action Duckpin Bowl in Indianapolis. The bowling session was part of the annual convocation for archdiocesan seminarians. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

There has been a brotherhood among priests in the Church from its earliest days. In recent years, that fraternity has been encouraged more actively in part to help priests have the mutual support they need once they are ordained and enter into ministry.

The annual convocation of archdiocesan seminarians is an important way of building up this brotherhood before these possible future priests are ordained. It takes place shortly before the seminarians return to the two seminaries where they are enrolled: Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis and Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

This year’s convocation took place on Aug. 5-7 at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis. During that time, the seminarians had meetings, prayed together, shared meals and took part in recreation.

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson met with the seminarians on Aug. 5 and was the principal celebrant of a Mass for the convocation that day.

“This is the future leadership of our Church,” he said in an interview after the Mass. “They’re quality guys who are taking their vocations very seriously. They’re showing great courage and humility while discerning a call to the priesthood, to serve the people of God in central and southern Indiana.

“It’s important that we accompany them and walk with them in this formation and education journey.”

He especially appreciates the willingness of the 25 archdiocesan seminarians from across central and southern Indiana to enter into priestly formation during a difficult time for the Church.

“If we look back at the history of the Church, it’s sometimes in those challenging moments that people stepped up,” Archbishop Thompson said. “Moments of challenge can cause people to discern, think about their faith and think about how their lives are meant to respond to the challenges. People are discerning and seeds are planted, but it sometimes takes challenges to bring that awareness and a willingness to act on that call forward.”

New seminarian Sam Strohmier was a bit anxious at the start of the convocation. The gathering was the first event as a seminarian for Strohmier, a member of St. Michael Parish in Brookville who will be a freshman at Bishop Bruté and the nearby Marian University.

“I’m looking forward to it, but I’m a little nervous,” he said about his upcoming first year in seminary. “I just want to make sure that this is what God’s calling me to.

“The fellowship is very nice. It feels like that they’re all there for me. I’m no longer by myself.”

Six year ago, seminarian Matthew Perronie was in Strohmier’s position, a nervous new seminarian attending his first convocation. With several years of priestly formation under his belt, including spending time this summer learning Spanish and Hispanic culture in Cuernavaca, Mexico, he enjoys the convocation.

“It’s an opportunity to just relax,” said Perronie, a member of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg who is entering his second year of formation at Saint Meinrad. “When we’re in seminary, we’ve got the pressures of school work and other things we’re working on. But I can come here and just relax and enjoy their company. It’s awesome to have that experience.”

Knowing he is closer to priestly life and ministry now than he was when he started six years ago, Perronie recognizes the importance of fraternity among his fellow future priests.

“We need those times to get away together and have this community because one day, God willing, as a priest in a parish I’m going to need time to reconnect with my brother priests and take that time to refresh and rejuvenate with them,” he said.

Archdiocesan vocations director Father Eric Augenstein took a break on Aug. 6 from sharing in duckpin bowling with the seminarians to reflect on the fun of the convocation—and its importance.

“A lot of fraternity is built in casual settings, over a meal or a game of some kind,” Father Augenstein said. “So this is just an opportunity for us to just be with one another and not have any purpose or agenda other than just spending time with each other and getting to know each other. It builds good community.

“To see them grow in fraternity and get to know each other and spend time with each other makes for stronger seminary communities and a stronger presbyterate one day.”
 

(To learn more about a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, visit HearGodsCall.com.)

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