That is what each of the 16 Diocese of Venice seminarians has in common: they said “Yes!” by answering a specific call from the Lord to serve.
The group gathered for the annual Convocation, a multi-day retreat which allows time for reflection and fellowship, from Aug. 2-5, 2021, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the men on Aug. 4, the Feast of St. John Vianney, Patron of Parish priests.
As they progress in their own discernment, Bishop Dewane said each seminarian must open themselves up to the grace of the Holy Spirit and allow the Spirit to shape them. “This can be accomplished by making yourselves vulnerable. It lets you experience the grace and hear what the Holy Spirit has to say to you. This can be achieved through time spent with the Lord.”
That time, either through Adoration, contemplative prayer, etc., will allow the individual to learn the language of the Holy Spirit and better understand what the Lord wants, the Bishop continued. “Don’t stop listening. Don’t stop paying attention. Don’t stop seeking that spirit of discernment in your life.”
One way to remain open to the Holy Spirit is through encounters with others in ones life, the Bishop continued. Building upon a theme from the Gospel reading of the day which was about the miracle with the Canaanite woman.
Bishop Dewane noted how it would have been easy for Jesus to dismiss the Canaanite woman when she begs Jesus to help her tormented daughter who was possessed by a demon. The disciples even ask Jesus to send her away, but Jesus does not and ultimately recognizes her faith and heals the daughter.
“The Lord puts people into your path,” the Bishop continued. “Don’t dismiss them, don’t make a judgement. Jesus had lots of Marys and Marthas who followed Him and supported Him, but it is the others that helped to define who the Lord was in this world. Such encounters with these others must define you.”
Following the Mass, Bishop Dewane had a meal with the group, including four new seminarians.
The multi-day retreat occurs at the end of summer as a time of prayer and reflection before each man returns to his respective seminary. During the week they heard from retreat leader Father Rich Pagano, a priest from the Diocese of St. Augustine.
With the group assigned to four different seminaries, the Convocation offered the opportunity for those early in their formation process to hear from those who are further along. This mentoring helps build the bond amongst the group and helps everyone understand that the discernment process is not only done in the classroom but through the entire experience in seminary, during Parish assignments as well as in their personal life.
A special treat for the group was that they had just witnessed the Ordination to the Priesthood of Fathers Mark Harris and Alexander Pince on July 31. Both new priests spoke to the group during the week offering words of encouragement and inspiration.
Please pray for our seminarians as they return to their respective seminaries and continue in discerning their vocation and formation for 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.
List of Diocese of Venice Seminarians
Name, year, school
Transitional Deacon Jose Grullon – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, Boynton Beach;
Transitional Deacon David Portorreal – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary;
Alan Baldarelli – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary;
Christian Chami – Pontifical North American College Seminary, Rome, Italy;
Juan Contreras – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary; (Pastoral Year)
Andres Cordero – St. John Vianney College Seminary, Miami;
Michael Courville – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary;
Joseph Doherty – Pontifical North American College Seminary;
Thomas Gregory (Greg) Dougherty – Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, Massachusetts;
James Gates – St. John Vianney College Seminary;
Jacob Gwynn – Theology II – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary;
William Patrick (Pat) Long – Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary;
Alejandro Giraldo Roldan – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary; (Pastoral Year)
Carlos Rodriguez – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary;
Daniel Scanlan – Pontifical North American College Seminary;
Michael Young – Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary.