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Let the fun begin

September 30, 2014

Obviously the thing I am most looking forward to this week is ordination. One of the other things I was most looking forward to was welcoming so many family and friends from all over the world. Given the nature of my family, living everywhere, I am so humbled to have guests coming from five different countries on three different continents. Everyone has been arriving in the past couple of days and what a blast it has been already.

A few days ago we had a special welcome Mass for the families. Here’s a photo of the four of us on the roof of the North American College.

Welcoming my parents and sister to the NAC with a visit to the terrace.

Welcoming my parents and sister to the NAC with a visit to the terrace.

One of the other perks of this week is getting to meet the families of my best friends. It really has been a pleasure, despite what the following photo might suggest on first glance. I guess between Guayaquil and Italy I’ve learned how to talk with my hands too.

I swear I'm just talking and being friendly with my best friend's dad, not getting ready to hit him as appearances might suggest...

I swear I’m just talking and being friendly with my best friend’s dad, not winding up my right arm in order to hit him as appearances might suggest…

When my friend and I saw this photo we had a good laugh, and I hope you did too.

More to come throughout the week.

Catholic Missourian Profile

September 28, 2014

In anticipation of ordination our diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Missourian, publishes a profile piece on every ordinand to the diaconate and priesthood.

Given that this week is the week I will be ordained to the diaconate, they ran a profile on me in their most recent issue.

For those that don’t live in the diocese and get the paper edition, I thought I’d pass on the link to the story on the diocesan website. 

Look for more posts later in the week as the big day approaches.

Taking up the Cross

September 17, 2014

As I continue to prepare for diaconate there are many new beginnings, but also some endings too.

Today was one that started off with such an ending. For the last time I served Mass.

I remember distinctly one of the first times after I started attending Mass regularly, I turned to my mother and pointing to the altar server carrying the Cross, noted that I wanted to do just that, serve Mass and carry the Cross.

For the next few years I waited with eager anticipation for the day I would be able to serve. I remember getting asked to serve for the first time. I served when the priest asked me because the trained kids didn’t show up. I was nervous because I had no clue what to do.

Then we moved to New Jersey and I was formally trained. For the first few years all I wanted was to be the biggest and strongest kid on our “team” so I could carry the Cross.

Finally I got to that point and I kept on serving through high school and into college.

Obviously in a seminary we have Mass everyday and there’s an over abundance of overly qualified servers floating around. At the NAC, those of us who are acolytes take turns three at a time each day. There is one who helps with the Missal, one with the bells, and the third with the Cross.

Today was the last time I will be on the schedule as a server. The next time, please God, I will be a deacon.

Quite fittingly today I was slotted into the third spot, Cross bearer.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. -Matthew 16:24-25

Diaconate Oath Signing

September 14, 2014

Last night along with my classmates I participated in the diaconate oath signing ceremony. The ceremony is composed of two parts in which we first make a profession of faith and secondly an oath to uphold the office of deacon which will be entrusted to us shortly. While short and relatively simple, the seminary has always done a great job making this into a beautiful moment. I remember the impact it had on me my first year as I watched the fourth year men call out their names one-by-one. This is the first of a series of events that will be taking place over the next few weeks surrounding diaconate ordination. The experience of signing the profession and oath really made it all sink in, that after five years in seminary, and more importantly, 26 years of life, this is really happening, and it’s happening now. What a great blessing and grace-filled time. Please keep me in your prayers during these next few weeks. Of course, here are some photos of me from the oath signing, for more photos click here.

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After processing into the chapel as a group, we wait for the ceremony to commence.

 

He we are signing the documents after we all read them out loud together in front of the entire seminary community.

He we are signing the documents after we all read them out loud together in front of the entire seminary community.

Back in Rome

September 7, 2014

Yesterday I finally returned to Rome after spending most of my summer back in Missouri. As always with travel, it was a long day. However, while still very tired, it has been wonderful to see so many friends again and catch up on life. This coming week we will be workshops on the celebration of the Sacraments. This workshop is not a theological explanation of the sacraments but rather how to celebrate them according to the norms and rituals of the Church.

The following week we will be doing a workshop on the process of marriage preparation. At the end of the two weeks of workshops we will head off on our canonical retreat before diaconate ordination. I am very excited that the particular retreat center we will be using for this important retreat is run by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who as you might have guessed by reading other posts on this site, are dear friends of mine and who have had a great impact on my life and vocation.

Once we return from the retreat we will begin the week known around here as “Diaconate Week,” a week full of fun activities with family and friends all built around the diaconate ordination itself on Thursday morning.

Please keep me and my classmates in your prayers during these important last days leading up to ordination.

Summer review

September 3, 2014

It’s been a while since I posted. Mea culpa. My last post marked then end of my third year of theological studies in Rome and the finishing of my S.T.B.

After I was done with my last exam I immediately flew to Boston to attend an academic conference, which lasted all week. At the end of the week I was able to get together with my cousin who lives in Boston and watch one of Ecuador’s world cup matches.

Following Boston I made a quick pit stop of sorts in New Jersey before making my way to Missouri for the summer.

I spent most of the summer working in two parishes in Missouri. Both parishes are located on the Lake of the Ozarks which is a beautiful lake and vacation area in Missouri. I lived in one parish, St. Patrick’s on the North side of the lake. There I participated in as many of the parish actives as possible. I also helped out on the southern side of the Lake in Camdenton. There my work was more specialized as I only engaged in Hispanic Ministry.

There are lots of crazy stories and adventures, hopefully when I get time I will share some of the specifics. I should have found time to post more stories as they actually took place.

I can say for now that my favorite part of the summer has been being able to get together with so many old friends. It has been wonderful catching up with so many different people from different parts of my life.

It is finished!

June 16, 2014

Today I finished my last final exam of the year, and with it, the entire S.T.B. It feels good to finally be done with this degree. I’ve learned and grown a lot, but now I’m looking forward to the S.T.L. Today I’m off to Boston to attend the Lonergan Workshop for the rest of the week. Next week I head to New Jersey and then Missouri to begin my summer assignment. Now that I’m done with exams and more importantly, studying for exams, I might be able to share a few more posts. The last two weeks there wasn’t too much to share as my time was spent studying and taking exams.

Last day of first cycle classes

May 29, 2014

Today was a big day for many of my classmates and I, we finished our classes for the so-called “first cycle” of theology which grants one a pontifical degree known as the S.T.B. Next year I will begin another degree for “second cycle,” which leads to an S.T.L.

Many of my classmates who came here from over 40 countries will not be returning. Many of them will be returning to their home countries or sent out on mission to begin new apostolates and ministries, sharing what they’ve learned here in Rome. Today was the day to say our goodbyes. We might run into each other during exams, but today was our last day all together after three years.

Of course, I have a theory, that for those who give their lives in service to the Church, there is no such thing as “goodbye,” only “see you later.” I don’t know when I’ll see some of my classmates again, but with all of the events that take place in the Church, you never know when you might just run into someone again. Even if it’s 30 years from now, it’s still, “later.”

That still didn’t make certain parts of today somewhat sad and difficult in saying “see you later,” to so many good friends whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know these past few years. When people ask me what I like most about studying in Rome, my first response is always my classmates at the university and the seminary.

Here’s a photo of the group of us after one of our classes this morning.

Many of my classmates gathered together for a photo on our last day of classes.

Many of my classmates gathered together for a photo on our last day of classes.

Hall Dinner

May 25, 2014

There are over 250 seminarians at the North American College. It’s a great blessing, yet with so many guys it can be hard to get to know everyone. Within the 250 there are many smaller groups created which form more of a family environment. One of those groups is formed by the people you live with, your corridor or hall. There are four residential floors in the building, each floor divided into three wings or halls. For all three years I have lived in the same room on the hallway known officially as, “3rd Hospital” and affectionately as, “3rd Carnivore.”

Once a semester each of the individual the halls get together to have dinner.  Tonight was that night for the men of 3rd Carnivore. Naturally, in order to fulfill and maintain our hall’s namesake, I fired up the smoker and cooked some chicken. Other guys helped contribute with homemade breads and desserts.

Before we all leave our home of 3rd Carnivore to return to our homes in the United States, Canada and Australia, it was nice to gather as a group and finish the year with a good meal and good company.

*Unrelated Note* – While cooking, a gentleman from Oklahoma was touring the college and when he saw me with the smoker, he asked, “Are you that guy from Lino’s show?” Sometimes it’s just a small and funny world.

Fraternity weekend

May 20, 2014

Last weekend I participated in a fraternity weekend with my classmates of 3rd Theology. A fraternity weekend is not a retreat, but rather a weekend in which all the members of a particular class all take a trip together. We all packed on a bus on Friday and headed for the beach. There we had a hotel more or less to ourselves right on the beach. The weekend had a pretty light schedule, we had Mass in the middle of the day, but the rest was free. It provided a great time to just relax and hang out with classmates. We’ve all been here for three years together at this point. The weekend provided two opportunities for me. The first was just to relax and chat with some of my better friends. The second was to continue to get to know some of my other classmates who maybe don’t study at the same university or share an apostolate with me.

Right now we are in the “home stretch,” next Thursday is the last day of classes. Then I have four exams before returning to the USA for the summer. So it was nice to get away and not worry about all of the various tasks that face one this time of year.

It was truly a relaxing and fraternal weekend.

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