Glenmary's Students Are Back in School
"Wherever there are consecrated people, seminarians, men and women religious, young people, there is joy, there is always joy!"
—Pope Francis during meeting with seminarians, July 2013
One of my favorite times is the beginning of the new school year, which offers the chance to visit with the students in Glenmary's formation program. A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Glenmary House of Studies in St. Meinrad, Ind., to welcome new students to their new home. It was a joyful time to welcome them in and to reconnect with the returning students who were back after their summer mission assignments.
I could not see all the Glenmary students on the first day of the academic year, because Glenmary has students attending four different schools. Some are studying theology at St. Meinrad Seminary and at Sacred Heart Seminary near Milwaukee, Wis. Two are studying philosophy at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, and a brother candidate is studying at Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky. I will make a trip to each of the schools during the course of the semester, and other Glenmarians will do the same to show the students their religious community's support.
Community life is one of the four primary aspects of the formation program. That is why
students live in a setting that allows them to build bonds with others who are also preparing for religious life. The other aspects are spiritual life, intellectual life and apostolic life.
Spiritual life can be seen in the daily routine of those in formation. Daily prayer and Mass are required. At most seminaries, the students begin the semester not with academics but with a weeklong retreat to help them focus spiritually on why they are there.
The intellectual life can be seen in the classrooms and homework. So far the students have said they are challenged by the amount of studies required-but in a good way.
The apostolic life of formation in Glenmary comes in many ways. All Glenmary students are required to participate in ministry projects through their school, but the real connection to Glenmary's specific apostolic ministry is through their mission experiences. Students gain hands-on experience in the missions during their summer breaks and other breaks during the year. At these times, they live and work with Glenmary priests and brothers to learn about Glenmary's specific mission charism.
One drawback to having the Glenmary students at four different schools is that they don't get to see each other every day. But meeting the needs of the individual students is also important. Some highlights each year are the times they are all able to get together—for example, during the November Thanksgiving gathering. In addition to the
students, a number of Glenmary priests and brothers are present at this gathering for food, games, relaxation and community life.
Vocation prospects are invited to join in for the Thanksgiving weekend, too, as part of a Come & See retreat. This event and other Come & See experiences not only provide the discerners with an opportunity to meet Glenmary missioners, but they also offer the chance to visit one of the schools where our students are studying. I think the discerners' opportunities to talk with Glenmary students about student life are invaluable for them during the discernment process, in order to understand the reality of the commitment.
Religious life is a calling by God that we can choose to answer, but it also entails a commitment to a number of years of study and preparation. The Glenmary community supports students during this time because they know formation is instrumental in helping each student become the best-prepared priest or brother possible. Don't the people awaiting Glenmarians in the mission areas deserve the best?
Please pray for Glenmary students and missioners, and ask God if you are being called to join them as a fellow missioner. Please contact us to reserve your spot for one of the upcoming Come & See retreats.