As many of you know, this summer has quite easily become one of the more interesting summers I have had in my time as a seminarian. I am spending a good part of my summer this year in Cochabamba, Bolivia, working on my faculty with Spanish. Fortunately, I am not alone in my pursuits here, but am joined by Bishop Rice and also Allen Kirchner, a fellow seminarian for the diocese. This is not necessarily a part of our formation that is considered “core,” that is, something that absolutely must be done as a part of my curriculum, but it is essential for effective ministry in our diocese, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. This is easily seen by the amount of Spanish-Speaking parishioners that are spread across the diocese and are situated in many, if not most, of our numerous parishes.
The experience, thus far, has been a challenge for sure. I have never been abroad, let alone even boarded a plane before this summer. In addition, I have certainly found myself at a loss for words many times when speaking in Spanish (though that capacity is expanding by the day). This is all in a country that is, essentially, Spanish-speaking. Though it is certainly challenging being immersed in the Spanish language day in and day out, I have found a new appreciation both for the language and people, and also for what it must be like for a Spanish speaker in the United States.
Even in the midst of all of this though, it rings clear that all people everywhere are still created to worship one God who transcends all language, space, and time. All people are saved by Christ’s eternal sacrifice on the Cross. All Catholics of all cultures share in the Body and the Blood of Christ at the Mass, no matter the culture or the language. And that is why it is so necessary to be immersed in the Spanish language this summer. As I progress in my seminary formation, I continue to grow in understanding my own call to minister to others. This call is often not a comfortable one- nor should it be. So often it calls us out of ourselves to reach those who are more in need than those who would be easiest to share Christ with. It is a calling to a privilege to share our Lord and His burning Passion for all people, which words will often fail to describe. It is a calling to do what it takes to shepherd all people; it is a calling to spread the Good News, so that all may come to know Christ and His Love in a powerful and unique way- an experience that will so often be sparked by a language, and yet become something so far removed from spoken word.
Please pray for the three of us in particular (in addition to all seminarians) as we study, that we may obtain the graces we need to study well and continue to grow into more effective ministers to those we serve!
“To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.”
-1 Corinthians 9:22-23