Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio participated in a three-day convivence (retreat) for seminary candidates at the International Center of the Neocatechumenal Way in Porto San Giorgio, Italy, Sept. 6-9.
The event was a true spectacle where hundreds of young men from all over the world gathered to express their availability to begin priestly formation in one of the more than 120 diocesan missionary seminaries Redemptoris Mater has around the world. The young candidates had been discerning priestly vocation for years in local vocational groups.
The gathering is usually referred to as the “Merkabah” after the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of a four-wheeled fiery chariot driven by four “living creatures” which goes simultaneously in the four cardinal directions bringing the presence of God everywhere (Ez 1:4-28). This image depicts what the New Evangelization is all about. The young seminary candidates are invited to get in this spiritual chariot and thus announce the Good News to everyone. The ticket to get in the Merkabah is to be willing to go anywhere and everywhere.
During the convivence, in order for the candidates to get ready to be sent anywhere, they pray, are invited to convert, receive the sacrament of reconciliation and freely share their vocational story in small groups, guided by priests and lay catechists, who help the young men dispel any doubts and strengthen God’s call in their lives. Bishop DiMarzio participated in one of these small groups.
The Brooklyn Diocese had the joy of receiving three new seminarians, who join the current 12 men in formation at the Brooklyn Diocesan Missionary House of Formation Redemptoris Mater, erected by Bishop DiMarzio on this past, Pentecost Vigil, May 19, and currently located in Douglaston.
The three new seminarians are Cairo Lopez and Thomas Thornton from the U.S., and Paolo Quaglioni from Italy.
The retreat ended on Sunday with the celebration of the Eucharist. A velvet bag containing numerous first-class relics of saints was laid on the altar. Bishop DiMarzio, right before the final blessing, was given the grace to put his hand in the bag and pick – at random – a relic of a saint who would become the main patron saint of the seminary.
Kiko Argüello, co-initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way, held the bag and announced the relic that was picked: St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori. God wanted St. Alphonsus, bishop and doctor of the Church who lived from 1696 to 1787, to be the heavenly protector, advocate and intercessor of the Brooklyn seminary.
The goal of the Redemptoris Mater Seminaries, following the Church’s official documents regarding priestly formation, is to form priests for the New Evangelization, missionary priests ready to serve the Church either in the local diocese where they are formed for anywhere in the world.