Seminarians spend quality time with Archbishop Naumann
by Nathan Haverland
Special to the Leaven
Archdiocesan seminarians go on a pilgrimage with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann at the start of every new school year, but this year he put a new twist on it.
The archbishop supersized it.
This year Archbishop Naumann brought 22 seminarians and Father Mitchel Zimmerman on an event-packed, weeklong pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Madrid.
As Archbishop Naumann often says at ordinations, the most important work he does is ordain men to the priesthood. Pilgrimages give him an opportunity to spend a greater amount of personal time with the men he will someday — God willing — be ordaining to the archdiocesan priesthood.
Of course, the archbishop and the seminarians spent a lot of time with the other archdiocesan World Youth Day pilgrims, but they also had opportunities to take special side trips.
“I enjoyed every single moment I had with the archbishop, including the time I got him lost on our way to the Little Sisters of the Lamb,” said Agustin Martinez, a student at Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo., who acted as unofficial interpreter.
When they visited the motherhouse of the Sisters, Servants of Mary, an army of Sisters led by Sister Alfonsa Bellido unloaded a ton of charity and affection upon them. The Sisters fed them a wonderful breakfast and let the archbishop and seminarians pray in their chapel before the relics of the Sisters’ foundress, St. Maria Soledad.
“Hands down, the Sisters, Servants of Mary know how to love and care for God’s people,” said Evan Tinker, a student at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. “When I was hungry, they fed me. When I was tired, they poured me a cup of coffee.”
One thing the seminarians were really excited about was meeting Pope Benedict XVI. The pope carved some time out of his own hectic schedule to celebrate Mass early Saturday morning for 4,500 seminarians at Madrid’s cathedral, Santa María la Real de la Almudena.
Five archdiocesan seminarians received special tickets to be inside the cathedral during the Mass, while the rest watched from the outside, in the cathedral’s plaza.
“It was so humbling to look at the future the Lord is creating for his church,” said Luke Doyle, a student at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
After hearing the confessions of four seminarians, Pope Benedict XVI was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.
In his homily, he instructed the “dear seminarians” to spend their years in formation discerning if God is indeed calling them to a courageous vocation with “years of interior silence, of unceasing prayer, of constant study and of gradual insertion into the pastoral activity and structures of the church.”
Some of the seminarians were quite moved when the Holy Father, with a big smile, announced that he would soon declare a new doctor of the church: St. John of Avila, the patron saint of Spanish diocesan priests.
Something else made Pope Benedict XVI grin, as well — Martinez shouting at him.
“He turned to me, smiled and blessed me — which I took a picture of,” said Martinez. “This was probably the most meaningful experience of my life.”