"The Call" March 2021 Newsletter
Peace of Christ.
I hope that this edition of “The Call” finds you having a grace-filled and blessed Lent.
Have you ever had that experience of saying something wrong once and then always saying it wrong? I have done that with one of our seminarians, Deacon José Carvajal—
I have on multiple occasions described as the
president of the student senate
. He’s actually the
student body president
at the seminary he attends, Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. He reflects on his experience in his piece this month.
Lent is a beautiful season for the purification of our attachments. So very often we fill our lives with noise and stuff instead of turning to God. Whether it is endless scroll of the Facebook newsfeed, the bingeing of Netflix programs, or some other created good, we do a wonderful job of making the Earthly gifts God gives us into our own little gods. When we have problems, instead of praying (where there is no guarantee we will feel better), why not watch all five seasons of
over the course of one long weekend
On the contrary, God instructed the Israelites to drill it into their children that there is no other god than He.
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children.” ~
This reading appears each week in night prayer of the liturgy of the hours on Wednesday. I remember in college having conversations with peers about why God asked us to give up chocolate or video games or soda or fast food for 40 days. While there is value in fasting as ascetical practice, the connection to setting aside the things that distract us from turning to God is often lost today, as we make them into own little gods. Who needs a Golden Calf when you have Disney+, Hulu, and Apple TV+?
Setting aside time from distractions allows us to go deep into our hearts —to get to know where God is working and to hear His voice, so we can better know His love and to share it with others. This is why our annual vocation retreat for men is so necessary. This Saturday, we have 30 men who will be taking time away from the busyness of life to have a day of spiritual talks, Mass, and prayer during which they can hear God speak to them. I am so excited for this retreat and I ask you to please unite with me in prayer for the men. In fact, we would love for you to lift them up in prayer that day. Please consider joining us for…
Day of Prayer
Saturday, March 27
, the same day as our retreat, all are invited to join in a full day of prayer for the men who are discerning on the retreat. At Saint James Parish in Grafton, we are going to have a “Day of Eucharistic Adoration” that starts with Mass at
followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and ends with Benediction at
. Throughout the day there will be time for silent prayer, all four mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and many other prayers for vocations. Confession will be available. All are welcome for any amount of time during the day. For more information please contact: SevenSistersWorcester@gmail.com
Lastly, the past few months the newsletter has been monthly, always around the twentieth of the month. It has become apparent that sometimes waiting a week or two would be beneficial when I have more news to share. Going forward, the newsletter will come out more freely and as needed, whether that means still once a month, or maybe every five or six weeks.
I wish you a prayerful Holy Week and a most blessed Easter. You remain in my prayers. God bless you.
Father Donato Infante
PS If you received this newsletter by e-mail forwarding and would like to sign up, please visit our website by clicking
Deacon José Carvajal
I started writing this article by first looking for a striking title able to define what I wanted to communicate. This is how "El Presidente" came across as a perfect one. When I first arrived at St. Mary's Seminary & University in January 2016, the first person I met was the 2015-2016 Student Body President. He was a transitional deacon from the Trenton Diocese who was ordained to the priesthood in June of 2016. When I asked what a Student Body President is and does, the seminarians told me he acts as our representative to the Rector. He also serves as the seminarian representative at appropriate public ceremonies and liturgical celebrations. His duties and responsibilities include to call and chair all special meetings of Student Government; to serve on the House Council; to accept and secure nominations of Class Presidents, Liturgy Committee and Student Body President; to coordinate the development of the student government budget and subsequent distribution of allocated funds to Class Presidents; to appoint in consultation with the President Rector a Recording Secretary for the House Council meetings; to represent student government in the development of the agenda for House Council meetings; to attend all meetings of the Board of Trustees; to represent the seminarian body in the Covenant (Opening Year) Liturgy; to represent the seminarian body at appropriate public functions to be determined by the Rector.
No wonder why the Student Body President of that year was a blessing for us; I mean the four new seminarians who came to St. Mary's in January 2016 without even an orientation week. He walked us through seminary life and gave us an excellent overview of the program. He knew his way around and was loved and respected by the entire community. In the following years, I always saw some of the transitional deacons running for that position, and their desire was always to serve the community well. I never thought I was going to be in such a situation five years after having come to St. Mary's. Before the pandemic hit, some of the guys in the house started to talk about the deacons who would run as candidates for this position. I did not think I could do so because, to be honest, it is a big responsibility, and I did not believe an international student would have enough knowledge, sensitivity, and trust to hold such a position. However, some of my brother seminarians started to motivate me to run for the 2020-2021 period, and I began to consider it. When the pandemic started, and we all had to be sent home, we had first to decide who our next Student Body President was going to be, and I found myself running as one of the three candidates. To my surprise, I ended up getting the position, and it has been one of the best experiences of my life.
Serving my brother seminarians as their liaison between the President-Rector, the faculty, and the administration has been a humbling and enriching experience. I never thought my brother seminarians were going to come to me to express their joy and gratitude with the program, and of course, their frustrations and disappointments as well. To be a bridge between my fellow seminarians and the administration is challenging. A formation program to the priesthood is not meant to please people; on the contrary, it helps us move in the right direction by taking us out of our comfort zone. Formation humbles us to recognize our need to be better human beings and grow closer to Jesus Christ. Keeping this balance is always the faculty's goal at St. Mary's Seminary, but in so doing, they need serious and balanced feedback from the student body. This is precisely the nature of my service, to help both faculty and students keep the right balance so that our program remains balanced and formative. Another big challenge I have faced in this position is attending the Board of Trustees Meetings. As an international student, I work hard to improve my English, but talking to people in a very formal context is not easy at all. However, my brother seminarians' honest feedback and invaluable support have helped me properly accomplish this task of being the student body's voice among those who make critical decisions for our house of formation.
On the other hand, as everybody could guess, being in a leadership position during this trying time of the pandemic has been challenging. What we used to call normality has been gone for a year now, and seminarians, along with faculty and staff members, are tired of following all the procedures that have kept us safe and healthy. However, it has been a learning opportunity. We have witnessed ourselves what St. Paul meant when he used his very well-known metaphor of the body whose head is Christ. Every member is essential, and if one member suffers, so do the others. This experience has been a beautiful journey. I have learned and enjoyed every interaction with people, and I love running into my brother seminarians in the halls who greet me with a smile while saying, "Hola, El Presidente."
Father Donato Infante
on Wednesday, March 24 at 9:09AM