[This week I yield my space, a couple weeks late, to the epistolary eloquence of our seminarian, Robb Lester. Robb is studying at St Joseph's Abbey Seminary College in St Benedict, Louisiana. - Fr Allen]
Dear Fr Allen and Corpus Christi Family,
As I’m writing this Florence is rolling around off the coast trying to make up her mind where to go. After just going through preparations a few weeks ago with Gordon, I understand the frustration of not knowing when and where these hurricanes go. For us here at the abbey, we were lucky in that Gordon didn’t make it this far but we were prepared and well stocked with goldfish and other refreshments! I have offered prayers for all of you and ask St Scholastica to intercede for you. St Scholastica is St Benedict’s sister and is invoked against rain and storms.
It’s been a month or so since I arrived back at St. Ben's. Mom and Dad helped me move back in and we all were able to take a side trip to Houston. We attended mass at the cathedral with Bishop Lopes as celebrant and met up with a few of my seminarian brothers. We dined with Bishop Lopes at his home. The bishop is not only a great shepherd who gives inspiring homilies but can cook a gourmet meal! It was a wonderful evening to share with him and meet his mother, who is a delightful woman.
Classes have been the usual challenge, but I enjoy the opportunity to further my knowledge of the Church and continue my discernment process. I must admit the recent scandal of abuses have shocked our community here at the seminary. As we have seen a small part of fatherhood, both spiritual and secular, has been affected, brotherhood and sonship must be protected. I know that our Blessed Mother will clean Holy Mother church by her authority as Queen of Heaven. Please continue to pray for all seminarians, our formation directors and bishops and our Holy Father and that they who God has called to a holy priesthood will rightly and duly administer his holy word and be the fathers that the Church needs in these trying times. Please join with all in the Ordinariate Friday, 9/21 as we follow Bishop Lopes’ designation of this Ember day as a day of penance and fasting for the victims of abuse and for the Church’s healing.
I noted last year that I was the only one from the Ordinariate here at St Ben's. This year I have a brother seminarian who is part of the ordinariate. He, too, is learning that he has to do a little educating of those who do not know us. It would have been helpful had Bishop Lopes had been able to come back the first week in September. He was to do our mass for the entire seminary and give a little background about us. Gordon unfortunately had other plans! Tentatively, he is to come in December and show the beauty of our patrimony which is definitely a treasure to be shared.
All seniors have to participate in a mission trip for graduation requirements. Usual countries visited are in Central America, but I have been assigned to Ecuador. We will leave in January for a few weeks to work with the locals there and share our common faith. Our faith doesn’t stop at the border, our faith doesn’t stop anywhere. Where the poor and hungry are, Christ is still present.
I’m on several committees here, one being hospitality. I am responsible for keeping rooms available for visitors in the hospitality hall thus making sure that Chapter 53 of The Rule of Saint Benedict is followed to always welcome guests and invite them to prayer. I also have found myself on the Bonfire committee. Each November we have a joint venture with Notre Dame Seminary, not the famous Indiana one, but the major seminary in New Orleans! We host a day of flag football and fellowship and then light a bonfire that the men of St Ben's build on campus from trees on the property. It's a fun day just before we leave for Thanksgiving and I'm looking forward to the construction and to the demolition!
Below is our class picture. We have about 150 young men discerning from all over the southern US. I am constantly amazed that there are so many men in this day and age who want to give themselves to Christ and his Church. Please pray for them and the monks and our lay instructors that their words will be God’s word and raise up an holy priesthood.
As always, you are in my prayers and I will offer up all of you to Our Lady when I go to Houston in a few days to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. Please keep me in your prayers and I hope to see everyone at Thanksgiving.
In Christ's love,