Monday, March 13, 2017

'Come and See' Weekend

The annual 'Come and See' weekend retreat was held at the end of February at the Villa of Our Lady Retreat House in Mount Pocono. The retreat enabled participants to pray, talk with seminarians and Diocesan priests, and listen to presentations on discernment and seminary life. Bishop James C. Timlin, Bishop Emeritus, joined the group for lunch and informal conversation.

Seminarian Ryan Glenn led a presentation and interactive session on
'The Rich Young Man'

“The ‘Come and See’ weekend retreat was a great experience. It helped me to get to know the seminarians and others who are discerning a vocation to Diocesan Priesthood. One thing that really stood out to me was the visit from Bishop Timlin. It was heartwarming to hear him tell his vocation story and his life as a priest and Bishop. Towards the end of his talk, he started to get emotional. He showed all of us that the priesthood is not just a career, but a way of life.”
Father Jeffrey Walsh (center), Episcopal Vicar for Clergy,
celebrated Mass at the ‘Come and See’ weekend along with
Father Don Williams (left), Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians,
and Father Gregg Loughney (right), assistant vocation director.
“The weekend was a refreshing and humbling experience. Being able to talk to discerners from all different parts of the diocese helped me to reflect on my own discernment and know that there are plenty of men in the Church of Scranton that are more than willing to serve the Church in any path that God has planned for them.”
-Andrew McCarroll, seminarian 
Bishop James C. Timlin, Bishop Emeritus, joined the group for lunch and
informal conversation. He told his vocation story and life as
a priest and Bishop to those in attendance
“This weekend is one of the most important initiatives we offer in the Diocesan Vocation Office. Young men aged 18-35 have the opportunity to really ‘retreat’ and step away from their busy lives to give God a chance to speak to their hearts in a very special way. Support from our seminarians, Assistant Vocation Directors, and other discerners allows them to relax, pray, and ask questions that can appear frightening and overwhelming. The experience of the seminarians, who have made this selfless commitment to God, provides discerners the opportunity to clarify any misconceptions and enables them to stay open and available.”
-Father Don Williams, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians
Eucharistic Adoration 
For more information about discernment and/or retreats sponsored by the Diocesan Vocation Office, please call 570-207-1452.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Meet Seminarian Andrew McCarroll

Home Parish: Saint Robert Bellarmine, Wilkes-Barre
Year of Study: College I at Cathedral Seminary House of Formation, Douglaston, N.Y.

1.   What are some of the factors that led to your decision to enter the seminary and discern further the question of a vocation to Diocesan Priesthood?

The main factor was my parish. Growing up in a strong community of faith showed me the importance of not only the church’s role in the people’s life, but also the role of the priest. From an early age, I knew the importance of the Mass and sacraments to our parish but also the witness so many individuals gave to support our parish. From Altar serving, to singing in the choir, to even volunteering at parish fundraisers, I saw the people of God active in their faith. I wanted to not only be in that community, but to dedicate my life to the community of God’s people. I believe it is through this passion to serve the community of Jesus’ Church that I receive not only many blessings, but also the joy and peace that is brought to my heart to make this next step in my life with Christ and his Church.
Andrew served as Master of Ceremonies at his
home parish of Saint Robert Bellarmine in
Wilkes-Barre for the Christmas liturgies

2.      What is a day like at the seminary?
A day in the seminary is not always easy, but it is full of joy! Most days we start early in the morning with 6:45 a.m. morning prayer and holy hour. We then grab something quick for breakfast, and then it’s straight to class at St. John’s University. We study a variety of different topics, but our main course of study is philosophy. After class, I usually have some free time to study, spend time with other seminarians, or spend some time with the Lord in prayer. At 5:30 p.m. we pray evening prayer and celebrate the Eucharist as a community followed by dinner. The rest of our evening after dinner is usually free. This is just a basic outline of our schedule, but I can honestly say that I never had two days that were exactly the same. Each day brings different blessings and challenges that I face in confidence. Not every day is easy for me, but the joy of serving the people of God gives me the energy to overcome any challenge I face; whether it is writing a ten-page paper, or just trying to find some time to relax. But the joy I receive is amazing! I do not think that I have ever been closer to Christ than this time in my life! I have really begun to see Jesus’ hand working in me. 

Seminarians Jonathan Kuhar, Andrew McCarroll, and Kevin Miller at World
Youth Day in Krakow, Poland 

3.       What is the role of prayer in your life?
Prayer is the corner stone of our life in seminary. I do not think I could ever get through a day here without it. Our main form of prayer here is the celebration of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours; but it does not stop there! There are so many different forms of prayer I have experienced and use in my daily life. From meditating on Sacred Scripture, to prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, to quiet mediation and examination of my day. It is through this deep connection of letting God enter my daily life that I gain strength to go wherever He guides me. But also through a strong life of prayer I realize that I cannot do this alone, but that I am more dependent on God than ever before.

4.          What are some of your hobbies? 
There are many different thinks I like to do in my free time here at seminary, but so much is offered to us that I find it impossible to ever be bored. Most of my time I spend with some of my closest friends that I have met here. We explore, go to events, or just hang out in the common room in the seminary. But on an individual level, I enjoy going for a walk at the park down the street, read a new book, or just relax. One of the greatest gifts of living in Queens, New York, is how close we are to Manhattan. To be able to explore the city always gives you a new adventure in itself.

Music Ministry at ISLI in June which Andrew was a part of it

5.  What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about a vocation to diocesan priesthood?

Seminary does not always mean you are going to be a Priest. I think that is one of the biggest misconceptions about seminary today. Too many times young men think that once you are in the seminary you are in for good or that you are signing your life away. That is really not the case at all. Seminary is just a next step. So far I have seen great guys come to seminary and figure out that seminary is not for them, and that’s okay. They gave it a try and looked into it, and they opened their hearts to the Holy Spirit and trusted. And these guys are some of the most faithful disciples I have ever met. Being a disciple is all about trust. If you feel that the Holy Spirit might be asking you to look into the priesthood, go for it! Trust God, because if you put your life into his hands, you certainly will not be disappointed. We must give all our worries over to Christ, because we cannot walk this road alone. So in the words of St. John Paul II, “Be not afraid! Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Just as Christ called Andrew and Peter from their boat to follow him, so to Christ calls each and every one of us to follow him in ways we never expected. So cast out into the deep! Trust the Holy Spirit, and let him into your heart to guide you on the way he has planned! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017: The Year to 'Leave a Mark'

This past summer in Krakow, Poland, Pope Francis gave a powerful challenge to the young church. “Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to ‘vegetate’, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on,” he said. “No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark.”

Our Diocesan Vocation Office launched a new event in November of 2016 titled #leaveamark16. The event kicked off National Vocation Week in the Diocese of Scranton. As young people live out their baptismal call to holiness, they are encouraged to ask themselves the question, “How am I leaving a mark?” At the reception, we got many wonderful responses about how members of the young church are currently leaving a mark and also how they planned to leave a mark after the event on November 6.

As we begin a New Year, many individuals come up with resolutions, usually trying to better their lives. We encourage both young and a little bit older to think once again about that message from Pope Francis. In 2017, how can you leave a mark? How can you be a protagonist of history? How can you teach the world that it is easier to build bridges than walls? God wants you to dream and realize that with you, the world can be different.

Look what individuals have been doing since the start of the year:

World Youth Day pilgrims gathered for a day of service at the
Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen in Scranton

Members of the Quo Vadis program gathered at Gate of Heaven Parish
for faith sharing, sports, and prayer

Seminarians Mark Watrucki and Andrew McCarroll
traveled to Texas to join 13,000 other college students 
for Seek 2017 sponsored by FOCUS 

Whether it is in your day to day life or as you are exploring bold choices to commit yourself to the vocation of priesthood, religious life, marriage, and/or lay ecclesial ministry, we want to know what you are doing to 'leave a mark' in the world.

Let’s fill social media once again with positive messages, pictures, and videos of the young church making a difference for good in the world. Be sure to use the hash tag #leaveamark17 when posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

We hope 2017 will be a year of many blessings for you, your family members and friends.

May God Bless You,

The Diocesan Vocation Team 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Advent Week #4 Reflection

As we approach the Christmas season, I can’t help but recall some of my favorite memories from this time of year. I think of those snowy days in December when my siblings and I would zoom down white hills on our plastic sleds. I remember waiting with great anticipation for Santa Claus to come with mountains of gifts. My mouth waters as I think about the smells and tastes of my grandmother’s Cuban dishes prepared on Christmas Eve. Those cold, dark days of December were softened by the glow of Christmas lights in our neighborhood and the warmth of our family’s home. As fun and as beautiful as these memories are, however, they do not fully reflect the true meaning and significance of this approaching Christmas season.

As I read and pray with the Nativity of Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Luke, I come to realize the very radical nature of the Incarnation. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, left his proper place at the right hand of God the Father in order to fully assume our human nature as a small, helpless, and fragile child. Jesus’ very conception occurred in unusual circumstances: an unwed, Spirit-filled mother, ponderings of divorce, dreams and visions, acts of trust and faith. Jesus was not born as a wealthy or powerful Roman, but he chose to be born into a poor and powerless Jewish family. Jesus was born a stranger in a damp and dirty cave amidst oxen and cattle.

We continue to see the radical nature of the Incarnation in the announcement of the angels to the shepherds! Shepherds were societal outcasts who existed on the margins of society as landless workers. They were tasked with herding unintelligent, smelly animals. It was precisely to these shepherds that the heavenly host of angels declare the birth of the Savior! The birth of Jesus inaugurates his life’s mission of restoring all people, particularly the marginalized, to new life in God.

While I’ll always hold onto and cherish those dear Christmas memories from my childhood, I recognize that the true meaning of Christmas is much more challenging! As a baptized disciple of Jesus Christ, I am called to identify myself with the Incarnate One who chose to be born poor, powerless, and vulnerable. The entire life of Christ – from his birth to his death – was one of mercy, compassion and constant selflessness. This kenotic, self-emptying love is to be the hallmark of all who claim to be followers of Jesus. My life as a Christian, then, also compels me to be like those angels on that first Christmas night, to find the outcasts on the margins of society and proclaim to them the Good News that Christ has been born to free us from sin and restore us to God’s life and friendship!

And this is what the Christmas season is truly about. Merry Christmas!   

Ryan Glenn, a seminarian for the Diocese of Scranton, completed Theology III at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. 

During the 2016-17 year, Ryan will reside and minister at St. Matthew’s Parish in East Stroudsburg, PA. 

There, he will continue to pray and discern his vocational calling. Ryan will also be involved in multiple parish ministries, including Catholic Campus Ministry at East Stroudsburg University. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Advent Week #1 Reflection

As I sit here writing my thoughts, in the season of Advent, I can’t help but wonder if Advent is more of a season of waiting for Christ or more like a season of allowing the Spirit to form us to see Christ anew. In this academic year of seminary formation, I am assigned to the Catholic Community of South Baltimore, an urban community made up of three historic parishes. It is a community of young and old, but mostly young with three times as many baptisms as funerals. Every month I see more than a handful of babies baptized into the Body of the Church. It is truly a time of recognizing Christ anew in helpless infants. Just prior to the start of Advent, we celebrated the feast of Christ the King. I can’t help but recognize that "King" far more differently than any artistic rendering. The King, in my recent experience, cries a lot, spits up, and is held by parents with love. For me, this is a beautiful image of the Christ.

            In my assignment, I also teach 4th and 5th grade religious education, as well as sometimes leading conferences for adults participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA). On my way to the parish on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, I stopped at a red light. There, like every Sunday, I saw an older man walking the median back and forth while asking for spare change. I hoped, this particular day, that he would not reach my car before the light changed. Searching for change, pressing the button to roll down the window, and interacting with another human being this early in the morning seemed like too much work. In short, he was going to reach my car before the light changed. So I searched my cup holder full of change, moving the pennies and nickels out of the way in order to find a handful of quarters.

            As he approached my car, I pressed that button to roll down my window, stuck my hand filled with quarters out of the car, and waited for him to limp over to me. I gave him all I had and said, “Take care. Have a good day.” He looked at me and responded with something I could not understand. I gestured to show that I could not hear him. He said it again. Still, I could not hear him. Finally, he raised two fingers into the air in the shape of a V. “Peace,” he said. “Peace,” I said with the first smile of the day on my face. The light changed and I drove away.

            The man: older, limping, hands swollen and red, mumbling the same word from a mouth that could not be seen as it was covered from a long unkempt beard. As I drove away, I broke down into tears. It took me a moment to recognize what was happening inside me. I had an encounter with Christ—not just in an intellectual, theological way—a real encounter with Christ. My tears were not only in gratitude for the encounter or in awe of an experience to which I could not fully give word, but in sadness that Christ still has to reside in such conditions. The theme for my RCIA class changed that morning as we instead discussed how Jesus’ ministry shows us the Father in ways that we sometimes wish were not true—in ways unfit for God.

            To celebrate Christ the King after meeting Christ in the poorest of the poor baffles the mind. This is Christ: living in absolute poverty, in need of medication, unable to be understood (or even fully seen for that matter), shuffling from car to car at a random intersection wishing drivers “Peace”? How amazing! From that experience, I had to ask, is Advent a season of waiting for the coming Christ into our world, or is it a season of recognizing Christ already present and standing right in front of us?

Bill Beechko is a seminarian for the Diocese of Scranton. 

He is from Mayfield, and is a member of SS. Anthony and Rocco Parish in Dumore. 

He is in Third Theology at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Bill is pictured (center) at his Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders Mass with his father (left) and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera (right). 

Monday, November 21, 2016

#leaveamark16: A Memorable Event

Hundreds gathered in the Cathedral of Saint Peter on November 6th to join Bishop Bambera for a special gathering of the ‘young church’ to kick off National Vocation Awareness Week in the Diocese of Scranton. #leaveamark16, the title of the event, brought together high school juniors and seniors, college students, and working young adults from the eleven counties of the Diocese.

The title of the event came from Pope Francis’ address at the Prayer Vigil in Krakow, Poland this summer at World Youth Day: “Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to ‘vegetate’, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark. Jesus is inviting you, calling you, to leave your mark on life, to leave a mark on history, your own and that of many others as well.”

Bishop Bambera echoed the same message to all those who attended in his homily. “The starting point is simple. It’s something we’ve all been given: baptism. Pope Francis, in reflecting upon the sacrament, urges us not to forget both the gift and the responsibility that is ours through its reception."

After the Celebration of the Eucharist, a reception was held in the Diocesan Pastoral Center. Those who attended had the opportunity to meet others from across the Diocese of Scranton, have a bite to eat, and even get their picture taken in a photo frame. 

Here is what some who attended had to say:
“The #leaveamark16 event was a great congregation of the young church of our Diocese. I was very encouraged to see a church packed with young people who had the fire of the Holy Spirit alive within them. This event was a great manifestation of the message Pope Francis wanted to instill on young Catholics, namely to go out and leave a mark in our communities. The world is a better place when people go out into their communities and live out the Gospel message through serving others. Even if we feel that what we do is on a small scale and insignificant, in each person we help we are in turn serving Jesus as he is a live in everyone we meet.”

          -Thomas Shaffern, University of Scranton
“I enjoyed the sense of community and solidarity the #leaveamark16 mass and reception created by bringing together young adults from all over the Diocese. God has definitely left a mark on our generation. Now it’s our turn to join Him in leaving a mark of our own.”

          -Bridget Barnic, Marywood University
“The Mass was a sign for me that although religion seems irrelevant to today’s youth, there are still people my age who are looking for the same thing, God and His meaning. I felt His presence and it was amazing.”

          -Brian Noble, Luzerne County Community College

The Vocation Office hopes to make this an annual event. For more information about upcoming events, please call 570-207-1452.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Q&A: #leaveamark16

In just under two weeks, the 'young church' in the Diocese of Scranton will gather in the Cathedral of Saint Peter with Bishop Bambera for a special Mass and then a reception in the Diocesan Pastoral Center. This new event, "Are you leaving a mark?" (#leaveamark16), hopefully will bring together hundreds from our eleven counties.

Here are some common questions that people have been asking since this event was announced a few weeks ago (we provided answers under each question):

1. As a Director of Religious Education in my parish, who should I be encouraging to attend this event?
High school juniors and seniors, college students, and young adults through age 35

2. Where did the title of this event come from?
Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland gave an incredible address at the Prayer Vigil.
"Dear young people, we didn't come into this world to 'vegetate', to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark. Jesus is inviting you, calling you, to leave your mark on life, to leave a mark on history, your own and that of many others as well." 
Bringing back this message to the Diocese of Scranton, the question to all of our young people: how are you leaving a mark? 

3. Why is this event kicking off National Vocation Awareness Week in the Diocese of Scranton?
This year, National Vocation Awareness Week will focus on everyone's baptismal call to holiness and intentional discipleship here in the Diocese of Scranton. World Day of Prayer for Vocations in May will focus on the vocations of priesthood and religious life. 

4. Who is helping plan this event?
The Diocesan Vocation Team is leading the planning efforts. In addition, there are campus ministers, chaplains, and student representatives from the following schools who are on the subcommittees: King's College, Marywood University, Misericordia University, University of Scranton, Holy Cross High School, and Holy Cross High School. 

5. I noticed on the posters there is a hashtag associated with this event. Why use a hashtag?
The promotions subcommittee came up with the hashtag to better reach the target 
demographic (16-35). 
We are currently using the hashtag to help us in our promotional efforts. 
On November 6th, we are encouraging everyone that attends to use the hashtag when posting photos and videos from the Mass and reception. 
After November 6th and hearing the inspirational words from Bishop Bambera, we would like the 'young church' to flood social media with posts using the hasthag showing how they are 'leaving a mark' in the world. Service projects, helping feed the hungry in our communities, participating in liturgical ministries are just some of the many ways the 'young church' can leave their mark in the world and be the face of Jesus for all to see. 

We hope to see you at this special new event in the Diocese!

Diocesan Vocation Team 

Friday, October 14, 2016

What is #leaveamark16?

"Dear young people, we didn't come into this world to 'vegetate', to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on," said Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland this summer. "No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark."

After journeying this summer with a group of young adults to World Youth Day and hearing the messages from Pope Francis, Bishop Bambera is calling the young church of the Diocese of Scranton to gather in the Cathedral of Saint Peter on Sunday, November 6 for a special Mass at 5 p.m. followed by a reception in the Diocesan Pastoral Center. As the young church gathers, the question continues: are you leaving a mark?

The Diocesan Vocation Office is sponsoring this gathering specifically for high school juniors and seniors, college students and young adults through age thirty-five.

In addition to campus ministers, chaplains, and directors of religious formation being involved in the planning of this event, there are also student representatives on the subcommittees. 

Student representatives at a recent meeting to plan #leaveamark16

Here is what some of the students have to say about being involved in this new initiative:
"I decided to help plan #leaveamark16 because I believe it is important to bring the young church together because we are not just the present church but also the future. I am looking forward to meeting and connecting with new people from throughout the Diocese and deepening my spiritual life. I am part of the promotions subcommittee which is tasked with spreading information about the event and inviting individuals to attend." 
-Mollie Burda is a junior at Holy Cross High School in Dunmore and a member of Mary, Mother of God Parish in Scranton. 

"I decided to volunteer and help with this event because it is important for our Diocese to make its mark on the universal Church. This will be an event in which Scranton can say it is bringing together its young people to make a difference for those within the Church and those outside of the Church. I am looking forward to seeing the high schools, colleges, and young adults of the area come together to initiate a new way to bring together the local Church. It should be interesting to interact with new groups of people, and hopefully the event will allow us to build relationships in which we can work together for the betterment of the Diocese. I am on the liturgy subcommittee where we will discuss the liturgical aspects of the event and how we can make #leaveamark16 a holy and inspirational experience for all those who attend. I hope to promote this on my campus by using the usual means of email and posters, but more importantly by encouraging participation through personal invitation."

          -Michael Boris is a junior at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, a member of Saint Andre                             Bessette Parish in Wilkes-Barre, and a young adult volunteer for the Quo Vadis program.

For more information, please checkout our Facebook event page or call 570-207-1452.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Discernment: What Do I Do?

Along with a million other “church words” everyone always hears and has a hard time understanding is the word “discernment”. Discernment is the process where a Catholic man or women recognizes their vocation in the church. I know that sounds a little too formal so I’ll put it into everyday terms. Discernment is figuring out what you’re going to do with your life. Scary, right? I know it was for me at first. Sometimes as humans we don’t particularly like to hear that we need to figure it all out. We don’t like to commit, and it’s hard to think about it.

Before I entered seminary formation for the Diocese of Scranton,  I was just a regular high school student. Something I always heard throughout my days of high school was, “What are you going to do with your life?” Those are scary words to hear, especially for a teenager. We were kind of told that our whole life needed to be figured out, and that we needed to know sooner than later. Now I know when my fellow classmates and I heard those words the first thing that came to our minds were the following questions: What college am I going to go to? How much money am I going to make? Who am I going to marry? Where am I going to live? These are all very big questions for kids who still have sixty, seventy, or maybe even eighty years of life ahead of them. But, did we every stop to think what we were going to do with our life in the church? Now I’ll be honest and say that a large majority of my classmates probably didn’t think about that at first because I know I didn’t. We thought about the more specific things. But, with those specific things comes a much larger picture and we can begin to determine what our vocation is!

Vocation is another “church word” we always hear and sometimes misunderstand. I know when we hear that particular word we always think of one thing and one thing only…priesthood. I know I’m guilty of that assumption too. However, the term vocation is applied to everyone. We all have a God-given plan in place for our lives. I know for me it’s really comforting to know that. But, that God-given plan isn’t where we are going to live or what kind of job we will have. That plan is easily broken up into four main categories: single life, married life, religious life, and priesthood. Four very large areas to cover for the entire Church of God, but we can always be considered under one of those large umbrellas.

Now before we look into discernment itself, we have to know what we are discerning!

Single Life:
Everyone lives this vocation at least at some point in their life time. None of us were born a priest, brother/sister, or married … at least I never heard of it. We are all at first single. Some may move on to another vocation, and others may remain there. Either way, a single person devotes their time and energy to the service of others.

Married Life:
Probably the most common of the four vocations. Husbands and wives share a self-giving, love-giving and life-giving relationship with their spouse, and are committed to helping their spouse grow as a human, a Christian, and to reach heaven.

Religious Life:
A religious priest, brother, or sister commits his or her life to sharing in the life and mission of their religious community. Religious priests, brothers and sisters embrace the call to poverty, chastity and obedience. They serve in areas of great need and importance to the continued growth of the church and her message.

A priest lives a life dedicated to the church, and its people. He shepherds, teaches, and serves the people of God. He embraces the call to celibacy and is committed to a life of prayer.

Now that pretty much sums up each vocation, but there is much more to each vocation than what I just said. All four are extremely beautiful and are necessary for the church and its growth. But how do we know which of the four paths to start on? We use that fancy “church word” I had mentioned in the beginning…discernment. It is really confusing at first when you think about it. You want to know now! “What should I do!?” I know that’s how I felt when I was deciding to either enter college or seminary life. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret… you won’t know right away. It takes time to know these things. They aren’t just handed to us like presents at Christmas (although that would be nice). We have to pray. We have to live life. We have to ask questions. And most importantly, we have to love!

How else will we know where the Lord is leading us unless we talk to him? That’s an essential key to life in general. Now, I’m no spiritual director so I really can’t give you good advice on how to pray. If you need to start there, talk to your pastor or a priest you feel comfortable with. But what I do know is that it all starts in prayer! I could never go through a single day without prayer. It would have been impossible for me to enter the seminary without prayer, and would be impossible for me to stay in seminary as well. That is applied with every step to any vocation. We all need to pray.

Eucharistic Adoration is great way to spend time in prayer before the blessed sacrament

Live life!
How else could you know what a certain vocation is like unless you experience a part of it? It is important to have an understanding of each vocation and what it entails and has to offer. If you feel marriage is for you, then you would date and experience a part of an intimate self-giving to another person. The same is applied to priesthood or religious life. If you feel interested in the slightest, then give yourself more to your parish community, talk to priests or religious, and just be involved in the life of the church!

I know personally in our diocese there are groups of guys who get together and discuss their interests in vocations and can learn more about each one. A key factor for me was a little group at my high school. We simply called it the “God Squad.” It was just a group of guys who got together, asked questions, and talked about where we felt God was calling us. This group is among countless numbers of other groups and activities the vocation office has made possible for your benefit! I highly recommend you making use of them.

Quo Vadis Days is one of the many opportunities for high school students to
learn more about all vocations. Andrew is pictured here serving at a Mass
during Quo Vadis Days 2015.

Ask questions!
I know that it is hard to admit that we don’t know it all…I know I do. But if you feel lost and confused, don’t be afraid to ask for a little help or guidance especially from someone who has been where you are now. Even if you feel like you know it all like me, still ask questions. Even if you feel they are stupid, ask them anyways because any little question can lead to a much larger one and we can be strengthened with others answers.

It all comes down to a simple fact that each vocation is rooted in love. Our vocations are just a mirrored reflection of God’s love in our lives. If you give yourself fully to the love of Christ, his church, and every individual even though it may be hard, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

All this advice is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discerning any vocation. But, if you pray, live life, ask questions, and love, you’re on your way to a great start!
Andrew McCarroll, a seminarian for the Diocese of Scranton, just began formation at Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, New York. He is a member of Saint Robert Bellarmine Parish in Wilkes-Barre.

Andrew journeyed to Krakow, Poland this past summer as part of the Diocesan delegation for World Youth Day.

He is pictured here with his cousin, Shannon Kowalski, at the International Student Leadership Institute (I.S.L.I.) retreat in June 2016. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Ton of Fun at Douglaston

I used to wonder if it would be better to enter seminary right after high school or wait a year so I would be able to get the 'normal' college experience. I was worried about missing out on activities like sports teams, music ensembles, or even the chance of getting extra sleep in the morning. Nevertheless, I still decided to enter the seminary right after graduating from Honesdale High School. However, I never would have guessed that apart from getting extra sleep in the morning, I wouldn’t be missing a thing. Although the seminary may have more on the schedule for someone than the average college student, there is still plenty of time for fun.

One of the best days of the year is when Douglaston (college seminary) plays Dunwoodie (major seminary) in soccer and softball in the fall and basketball in the winter. Many days go into training for these games so the winners can take home the coveted “Holy Wars” trophy. These sports days are such a great and fun way of building fraternity. Everyone comes together as a team in hopes of winning the game. Fortunately, through dedication and prayer, Douglaston won all three games this fall- soccer and the two softball games. Practice for basketball will begin for the winter. Hopefully this year can be a clean-sweep for Douglaston.

Douglaston verses Dunwoodie in soccer & softball

There are also other fun events that take place in house. This year we are having some tournaments including ping-pong, Fifa, billiards, and more. Some of these tournaments can be especially fun, like when you have to pick a theme song to walk into the room for ping pong. Pretty much anything you can think of you can make into a tournament for the house.

with some friends 

We also have time for other recreational activities. There is an indoor pool at the seminary which is open a few times a week for swimming. There is a common room on the first floor with a ping pong table, pool table, and foosball table. In that common room, there are also two televisions. One of those televisions has multiple gaming systems, controllers, and most importantly, a copious amount of games.  

One of my passions in life is music and I love to sing. I am so happy that I am able to continue with this passion. At the seminary, I am a cantor and a member of the choir. The seminary choir practices Monday nights with a local choir director, and we have two concerts. For these concerts, the director brings her parish choir with her to sing with us. Because of this, we are able to have four voice parts- soprano, alto, tenor, and bass compared to just tenor and bass if it was only guys from the seminary. We sing once at Christmastime, in early December for Lessons and Carols, and once in Lent on Laetare Sunday.

Lessons and Carols December 2015
Now, before I finish, since New York City is such a diverse place, I probably should mention the fun that has to do with the prime location. There is always something to do at any time of day. If we want to hop on the train into Manhattan, we are just a few minutes away from the train station. If we want to go to St. John’s University for a campus event, we are only five miles away from campus. If we want to go to a baseball game, we can just hop in the car and drive to Citi Field. If we are hungry for any type of food, all we have to do is hop in the car or walk and we can have whatever we desire within minutes. If we want to see a movie on a Friday night at midnight, we can because there are movie theaters that are still having showings at that time. Trust me, you can do anything at any time because those examples were all true. The list of things to do goes on and on!

Citi Field 

There are many fun things we are able to do in the seminary. If you think God may be calling you to enter the seminary, but you’re worried you will miss out on having fun, don’t let that be the reason you don’t enter. There is plenty of fun at the seminary, and a wide variety of things to do on a daily basis. The seminary is a lot of fun, and I’m glad I entered right out of high school because I don’t feel like I am missing a thing.

Nicholas Jennings, a seminarian for the Diocese of Scranton, just started his second year at Cathedral Seminary House of Formation, Douglaston, New York. He is from Honesdale and is a member of Saint John the Evangelist Parish. He loves to sing and spend time with his family and friends.

Picture: Seminarians Nicholas (left) and Rob Dogal at a Christmas Sweater Party.