COMING SOON: Adopt-a- Seminarian Ministry — Supporting Seminarians on Their Formation Journey
As members of a Catholic faith community, praying for and supporting discernment to vocations is important, especially when it comes to our own diocese and parish. In fact, there are 16 seminarians from the Diocese of Springfield currently studying for the priesthood. Not only are these seminarians facing academic challenges, but they also are undergoing formation, a process when their faith, and their whole inner beings, are being shaped so they can best serve as our spiritual counselors, confessors, and leaders in faith. As they are undergoing this intense period of formation, they could certainly use a letter of encouragement, and even a birthday card, or package of cookies. They are, for the most part, young men.
Fr. Steven Arisman, our first diocesan priest, remembers what a seminarian’s life is like, and he is organizing a new ministry here at St. Francis Solanus — Adopt-a-Seminarian. While the details are still being worked out, the idea is to “adopt” one of the seminarians from our diocese, establish a connection with them through notes and cards, and send even the occasional care package.
The idea came from his former parish, in which the Knights of Columbus Council there had such an active ministry.
“The idea is different groups from the parish can adopt a different seminarian,” Fr. Arisman says. “They can write letters, send a birthday card, care package, or a Christmas gift. Mail means a lot to seminarians. And seminarians will write back.”
By establishing such a relationship, the seminarian will feel welcomed when he has the opportunity to visit the parish. He also knows that others are praying for him on his journey.
“Seminary is pretty tough, and sometimes it can be a winding road,” Fr. Arisman says. “They need support from the people of God to get through. In seminary, you study, but you also are being formed. Your formation has a whole team in charge of that. They all make you into the best vision of yourself. They also correct things in you so you can be the best spiritual reality you can be.”
The study is not a normal class, and seminarians face a different reality. They are challenged and corrected on everything, from personal hygiene to their manner of speaking.
“There are days when you feel, ‘I can’t do anything right,’” Fr. Arisman says.
However, it is on those days when our prayers can make a difference.
“There are days when out of the blue, you feel a burst of energy,” Fr. Arisman says. “You get a note in the mail or a box of cookies. Something happens, and for me, I thought ‘Someone is praying for me. I’m doing this for them and the Lord.’ When you have that connection to the people of God, it means a lot. The whole purpose of the priesthood is to be in a parish with people. You need a connection to parish life. It really does mean the world to a seminarian.”
While letters and notes from adults are cherished, it is the notes from school children that really make an impact for a seminarian.
“They are hilarious and adorable,” Fr. Arisman says. “And some things they write are really profound. It lifts your spirits.”
Families can also “adopt” a seminarian. By doing so, it may mean that their children will come to better understand the priesthood — and perhaps consider discerning that vocation.
As the ministry is being formed, there will be announcements in the bulletin, as well as talks to our various parish groups. If you would like more information, please call the parish office at 217-222-2898.