At the Summer Assignment: Part 1-The Parish
As you probably know, the busy life of a seminarian is not restricted to school during the fall and the spring. All seminarians can tell you about how we also have summer assignments. While the fall and the spring contain a huge part of the focus on our intellectual formation, the summer has the emphasis switched to it being more pastoral as we are typically assigned to a parish and live in the rectory with a priest and spend our days serving at the administration of the sacraments and spending quality time with the people of God. Last year because of all the Havoc the pandemic caused most of us in my diocese did not really have any summer assignment at a parish that we had to go to, including me. So most of our time was spent helping out at our local home parishes and with online ministry work to make up for what we could not do. The summer in the year before in 2019 was of course more of the conventional summer for seminarians because the Coronavirus was nowhere in sight. The summer of 2019 was my very first summer assignment as a seminarian because they came after the completion of my first year. I made some posts about it both during and after the completion of my summer assignment during that time, and you can check them out here and here.
With things not nearly as locked down as last summer, now we have the opportunity to be back in parishes. So that is where I have been the past week starting last Monday. However, my summer assignment this time around will still be a bit different but not do to pandemic precautions but rather to the formation plans of the vocations office.
On Monday May 24 I arrived at one of the parishes in my diocese called St Christopher’s in Dickson, Tennessee It is about 40 minutes outside of Nashville. It is one of a number of our rule churches that are on the smallest side with one pastor to serve the entire community. There is a deacon but he is well up there in age and no longer assists Father at Mass or any other liturgy and mainly just leads the RCIA program. After i got my stuff moved into the rectory father showed me around the church. He gave me a tour of the church building, the church office, the parish center, and the outside grounds. He told me about the history of the parish, it’s activities and events, the various places and landmarks of the church and who had a hand in constructing them, and even some of his future aspirations for the parish.
So far during the week I have made myself main way of seminarian should be at his summer assignment: available. I’ve served every Mass and adoration prayed with the rosary group, helped out with the St Vincent de Paul ministry and assisted in delivering food boxes to needy families, brought communion to a man in the hospital (please say a Hail Mary for his full recovery), assisted in the mass and which a sizable group of children above the age of seven were all baptized, confirmed into the Church, and received first Eucharist all in the same liturgy, went with Father to visit a home as he gave the anointing of the sick and the Eucharist and in another home to bless the whole house inside and out because of some strange happenings the owner had been experiencing lately (say and Hail Mary for this situation as well), set up for and take down after liturgies, got to meet a lot of folks and just hung out with Father a lot.
Overall it was a good first week at the church, and I hope it will continue to be this way for the next. Then at the end of this week I will actually leave tonight (but not move out completely) the second dimension of my total summer assignment. I will leave not only the parish but the state has a group of us are going down to San Antonio for Spanish immersion to learn and improve upon our Spanish so that we can be able in the future as priests to serve the sizable Hispanic community in our diocese and say Mass and give the sacraments in their language. Most of the group will be flying down there, but I and another seminarian will be driving down in his car all the way. We will leave this upcoming Saturday. This will last from most of June and all of July, and I will come back to the parish to finish out the summer. I will tell you all a little bit more about this portion of my summer assignment later.
For now I will leave you with some pictures of the parish that I am serving at, and it is a pretty good looking church. Plus the pastor knows how to do the liturgy right, which is always one of the best things to be blessed with. St Christopher’s was built in 1951.
The church building:
Outside the church:
The church’s beautiful prayer garden and walk path:
The church’s field in the back that includes huge grill pits and a bandstand. Parish gatherings must be lit.
ADDENDUM: Most of the above was written last week during the last week of May. The following last paragraph was written on Tuesday June 7, the week after.
That ends it here. Being at the parish is only part one of my total summer assignment. As a matter of fact, as I write I am actually on the second part of my summer assignment: at the Mexican American Catholic College (MACC) in San Antonio, Texas for in-depth Spanish immersion. I arrived two days ago, and I will talk about this later as I settle in.