Seminarians gather for summer retreat
Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic
The seminarians of the Diocese of Venice have each responded to a specific call from the Lord, to take a journey which leads them on a discerning path toward a vocation to the priesthood.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane closed the annual seminarian convocation on Aug. 2 with the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.
“Thank you for responding to a call of the Lord – a call to holiness,” Bishop Dewane said. “You have a belief in yourself and how you have responded. That belief will give you strength as you move forward.”
By choosing a vocation to the priesthood, the seminarians have responded to live a life of knowing the Lord in His goodness and this requires more than simply listening to what the Lord has to say, but actually living life as the Lord wants, the Bishop added. “The Lord blesses you for giving yourself freely. You are on a journey with and to God.”
The convocation is an annual gathering of those seminarians at different stages in their ongoing discernment for the priesthood and took place from July 31-Aug. 2.
The gathering gives the seminarians – 16 of the 19 from the Diocese able to attend – an opportunity to come together as a group to pray, to reflect on their choice of vocation and to share their thoughts and their personal journey with others who are on the same path. The goal is for them to leave refreshed and prepared for the next phase in their faith journey. The retreat was directed by Msgr. Michael Muhr of the Diocese of St. Petersburg while sharing his experiences of 36 years in the priesthood and offering different ways for them to grow in their relationship with the Lord.
Seminarian David Portorreal, who is returning to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach in the fall, spent his summer at the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University, Omaha, Neb. “It was a great experience to go and be with other seminarians and priests from across the country, each going through continuing formation. It was inspiring.”
Another seminarian, Kevin Avellaneda, who will be on a Pastoral Year in the Diocese, spent his summer in Pastoral Ministry to the Sick through St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, St. Paul, Minn. While there he had powerful encounters with those who are sick in the hospital, nursing homes and in hospice. “It was a very moving experience. You get a chance to see the work of God in different ways. Seeing someone on a ventilator and just being there for the person, but also for the families, strengthened my faith.”
Bishop Dewane encouraged the seminarians to return to their respective seminaries more committed to the Lord. “That commitment should come from your experiences of faith knowing you are not alone in your journey, either through my prayers, the prayers of the priests and the prayers of the faithful across the Diocese.”
Father Shawn Roser, Diocese of Venice Director of Vocations, said the annual convocation allows the seminarians to share their experiences, which is valuable as some are very close to ordination, while others are going into the seminary for the first time in just a week or two.
Please pray for our seminarians as they return to their respective seminaries and continue in discerning their vocation to the priesthood.
Diocese of Venice Seminarians are supported through the Diocese Catholic Faith Appeal, the Knights of Columbus and the generosity of the faithful.
Parishioners from around the Diocese are encouraged to help support the seminarians in their studies and choice of vocation through prayer and financial assistance. Donations may be sent to: Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.
Diocese of Venice Seminarians
Deacon Carlos Encinas
Deacon Franckel Fils-Aime
James Gates Jr.
Prayer for Vocations
God our Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith support vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.