“To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of others.” John Paul II stressed the importance and necessity of the family, and it’s no wonder that graduates of St. John Paul II Seminary as well as family and friends say, “It’s a joyful place,” and “It’s like a family.”
This family atmosphere is especially visible when we celebrate Thanksgiving on Taylor Street every year. This Thanksgiving feast takes place a week before the big day. After we pray the Angelus and Grace before meals, Fr. Griffin stands up and walks over to the massive turkey that has been carted out into the middle of the refectory. He picks up the knife and takes the first cut into the turkey while everyone breaks out into a roaring applause. It’s then full steam ahead on filling your plate with turkey, smearing it with gravy and adding a little stuffing and sweet potatoes on the side.
This enjoyable night prepares us to look back on all we have experienced thus far in the year and give thanks to God. These moments that we experience as brothers strengthen our bonds together, whether it is the late-night sessions studying a philosopher you don’t fully grasp or the seminarian excursions to wild and wonderful West Virginia to go kayaking. God has a hand in it all, especially in the ordinary moments throughout the day here at JPII. One that I have become extremely grateful for is our custom of making the mile trek down to campus with our brothers. This gives us the opportunity to raise our minds and hearts to Christ as we pray a Rosary together. It also allows us graduating men, who have the opportunity to take the John Paul II Institute class “Being as Gift,” to journey back to the seminary in wonder and awe for the gift of our life that our Father in Heaven has given us.
This gift of life is shown in a special way in our drive to help our brothers, even giving fraternal corrections, when needed, in charity for each other. The joy that exudes from this house comes from our desire to serve each other in ways like bringing a hot dinner plate to a sick brother in his room. We are all striving to become holy men as we discern the call to the priesthood. Some of us will be called out to start a family, while some will be called to serve at the altar. But we are all striving for Heaven, which cannot be achieved on our own. We need brothers at our side to encourage us and challenge us to continue down the narrow path.
We are extremely blessed and thankful to be built up by the strong familial brotherhood here at St. John Paul II Seminary. We pray for our patron’s intercession each day after Lauds and before the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I am extremely grateful that we have such a powerful intercessor, and I firmly believe the time spent here will bear much fruit as we become the heads of our parishes or households.
Mr. Seidleck is a second Pre-Theologian for the Archdiocese of Washington.