A letter home from our seminarian, Robb Lester. Please keep him in your prayers!
October 10, 2017
Dear Fr. Allen and Corpus Christi family,
It has been 2 months since I arrived at St Joseph Seminary, or St Ben's as it’s called. I have been busy from the start, settling in and making new friends and learning so much. The weather is not far off of from what I know from Charleston, with threats of hurricanes, too; I'm thankful that Irma didn't bothered you too much. The campus is beautiful and peaceful. Though there’s not a Bojangles anywhere near me, I have found it engaging and fun all at the same time.
There are about 150 seminarians here from the southeast US. I am the only one from the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter so I spent the first few weeks teaching those who were unaware of who we are. My formation advisor is a Catholic priest whose father was an Anglican minister, so he is most assuredly supportive of my discernment.
Each day is filled with morning prayer, classes, Mass with the monks, evening prayer and lots of studying. We do find time to socialize, play ultimate frisbee and of course, eat! There have been day trips into New Orleans and Baton Rouge; (I prefer the piney woods and swamp of St Ben's to either city). It is encouraging to see other young men like myself coming together to pray and build lasting relationships for the work of the Kingdom.
Recently on a Friday a few weeks ago, we had a Penance service and Silence day. We went to confession and Mass and then the rest of the day we were silent. No talking, not even during meals. It gave us time to build the interior life that all of us need for our relationship with Our Lord. No distractions of the outside world. Saturday, after Silence had been completed, I drove to Houston to our Cathedral. It was the weekend for the candidates of the Instituted Acolytes, coinciding with the Feast Day of Our Lady of Walsingham. I met the other seminarians of the Ordinariate, with the exception of one who studies in Rome. It was good to bond with them as we discern the path we are on together. We prayed Evening Prayer with the candidates for Instituted Acolytes and had a wonderful dinner with the cathedral parish. It was comforting to see familiar faces from home as Dr. Lackey was there as a candidate for Acolyte, along with Mrs. Lackey.
Sunday morning arrived and I, along with the other seminarians, vested for Mass. It was the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. The processional hymn was “Hail thee, Festival Day”, a favorite of my entire family (both my sisters have used this for their weddings for the recessional hymn!) In case you didn’t know, I was trained as an altar server by my mother back at Holy Communion. She taught that a server should keep facial expressions to a minimum, no smiling or weird faces. While I kept that lesson in my mind I could not help but feel joy as I sat in the cathedral and before long I knew there was a smile on my face. I felt the joy of being there, at Mass, a Catholic Mass, something that, when as a former Anglican, I never thought I would feel. Back then, I thought being a Catholic meant giving up worshiping in the beauty of holiness. I remember being cautioned as I was converting that I wouldn’t find the same liturgy in the Catholic church as I had known in the Episcopal church. Yet, I have found the liturgy, even better than before. It’s wonderful! It’s beautiful! We have a bishop who cares to preserve and enrich our patrimony. We have a beautiful cathedral to worship in. We have young Catholics who love the beauty of the Mass of Divine Worship. As I drove the 5 hours back to school, I knew that the decision to swim the Tiber was what God had been calling for me to do. I have so much joy and peace about my life in the One True Catholic and Apostolic Church. I give thanks that Benedict XVI gave this opportunity to us and our Holy Father Francis supports us by giving us Divine Worship and Bishop Lopes. I pray that with the intercessions of Our Lady of Walsingham, the true queen of England, we all shall become one.
I thank all of you for your prayers for me in my discernment. I look forward to seeing all of you at Thanksgiving. Until then, please know that you are in my prayers.