More than 200 students from all levels of seminary formation celebrated the Inter-Seminary Day of Prayer and Fellowship Nov. 1 at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston. The day started with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
The bishop initiated this celebration with seminarians last year to get “them all together to celebrate the Feast of All Saints.” He also wanted them to “know one another, play some sports and activities, and get to see the grounds.”
“This is my first year in the seminary and today is one big family reunion. We join our houses to make one. There is no difference — we are all family,” said Patrice Legoute. He studied at Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary, Elmhurst, from which he graduated last year. It was the first time he saw many of his old friends.
“Being able to spend time with all of my brothers — is an excellent day,” he said. “I say to them, in the silence of your heart, listen to God’s call.”
Heroism vs. Holiness
During his homily, the bishop told to the seminarians that the priestly vocation is a call to holiness. He told them that we sometimes considered saints to be heroes, but that there is a difference between heroism and holiness.
“Heroism is instinctive. When we see something is wrong, we try to help. It is instinctive … How we compare that to holiness? What is the difference? … Holiness is not instinctive. We have to learn it. We have to work at it because holiness is trying to recreate the divine image in our lives, the divine image that somehow has been smudged by sin.”
After Mass, the seminarians had breakfast and the rest of the day was a continuous friendly competition of football, basketball and soccer.
“Today is our second annual inter-seminary day with Bishop DiMarzio and it is an opportunity to be with the seminarians who are at the high school, college, and theology level,” said Father Sean Suckiel, diocesan vocations director. “It is a day to be together, a day to build fraternity, and a day to support one another in our vocations.”
The students came from St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie; the Cathedral Seminary House of Formation, Douglaston, and Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary, East Elmhurst.
This time, a new group came to the gathering: 12 seminarians from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, the new seminary of Neo-catechumenal Way created in the Diocese of Brooklyn this year.
“I am in the Redemptorist Mater House of Formation and this my first year in the seminary,” Marcos Daniel Gonzalez said. “I feel great to be here and to be called. I see it as an election — God loved me so much that he elected me. He saw my poverty and my sins but he chose me to begin this mission.”
Talking about the current crisis caused by the sins of some priests, Father Suckiel acknowledged that, “The difficult times the Church is facing right now is definitely having an impact on vocations and it should.”
“Our young people should be aware of what is truly happening. This is also a time for these men to respond because we need good men, we need good holy men,” he said.