"The Call" November 2020: The Primacy of the Supernatural, and Comps
November is a month in which as Catholics we remember the dead, and as Americans a time during which we give thanks. I have been praying for our deceased mission partners during this month of November, and I have been giving thanks for all of you.
In this month’s issue, I asked Deacon Carlos Ardila to reflect on the intellectual dimension of formation as he studies for his comprehensive exam, and I decided to write about the importance of what is known as the “soul of the apostolate.” When we speak about successful vocation ministry, we say that one of the nine keys is, “The faithful of the diocese are actively praying for priestly vocations before the Blessed Sacrament.” To this end, we have begun praying the traveling holy hour in a different parish each month during the academic year. Suspended for awhile due to the pandemic, we have returned to praying it this fall. It remains my hope that eventually parishes will also spontaneously organize holy hours for vocations, as Jesus tells us from where vocations come. “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." It is the only instruction he gives us in this regard. I am delighted that there are parishes in our diocese who already do this from time to time.
Of course, we can pray for vocations anywhere, and there is particular value to the prayers of our homebound parishioners.
As the Servant of God Father John Hardon writes,
…we serve others best when we do most for their souls. And we do most for their souls when we obtain graces from God for their numerous spiritual needs. If this means prayer, and it does, there is no more effective prayer than one that is joined with sacrifice, which in practice means prayer that is animated by the cheerful acceptance of the Cross.
The apostolate of suffering is not some exotic enterprise for only mystics or what we sometimes call ‘victim souls.’ It is open to everyone who has faith, and love, and zeal for souls.
Laura from the Center for EcoTechnology came to do a free energy assessment. The House of Studies qualifies for many completely subsidized upgrades that will save hundreds of dollars each year in energy bills.
Serra produces a brochure to assist in how to offer sufferings for vocations, which can be found by clicking
We must also pray for perseverance of our seminarians once they are in seminary...and for our priests! As it is particularly demoralizing when priests leave the priesthood or cause scandal, and it is detrimental to the life of a parish if a priest is lukewarm, we priests desperately need prayers. Something I am particularly grateful for this Thanksgiving is the Seven Sisters Apostolate, which has been lifting me up in prayer for several months now. Maybe you saw the beautiful article that ran in The Catholic Free Press in October. It can be viewed by clicking
A group of teenage volunteers were unable to come
this past summer
due to COVID, and a few weeks ago, a retreat I was supposed to preach was also cancelled due to COVID. It gave me the time to paint and redecorate.
One of the things that more than one woman, both from my group and others, has spoken to me about is how they have benefitted from it. One woman wrote to me, “For me, this particular hidden, contemplative type of prayer for our priests reminds me of the women who assisted Jesus in his ministry. It has deeply awakened a spiritual maternity in the core of my soul. I have learned in praying as a Seven Sister that when a woman prays in the spirit of authentic maternal pure love for a priest, Our Blessed Mother delights in collaborating with this soul. Mary reaches into the depths of the Sister and shares her own special love for Jesus' priests.”
Another woman in our diocese wrote, “
It really has been a blessing to me to be a part of the Seven Sisters Apostolate. On my assigned day to pray, I find myself first thing in the morning planning what time and where I will attend Mass or Eucharistic Adoration and do the Holy Hour. For me, it is usually Mass and rosary, and it is a high point in my day. Without having committed to the Seven Sisters Apostolate I don’t think I would have been spending this extra time with the Lord. It has also made me more aware of how important it is to pray for and support our priests.”
The movement already existed in our diocese before I mentioned to a group of women that I wanted to see it grow here locally. It consists of married women, single women, religious women...any woman who feels called to pray. For more information or support getting the apostolate into your parish or if you are interested in joining a group of women to pray for our bishop, please contact
May 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
Our next traveling holy hour is November 30
at 7 PM at Saint Mary Church in Shrewsbury.
The December traveling holy hour is December 8
at 6 PM at Saint Mary Church in Uxbridge as part of their 40 Hours Devotion.
Seminarian Giving Tree:
This year the Vocation Office is adapting the annual “Seminarian Giving-Tree” tradition during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important for us to keep safety in mind for everyone. The need for our men in formation for the priesthood is still great, and we are once again asking for your support.
If you would like to participate, there are two ways to participate this year.
1) Please mail a gift card of any amount in an envelope addressed to “Seminarians, 51 Illinois St., Worcester, MA 01610.” Suggested stores where the seminarians can purchase both everyday items or the books they need for their education include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CVS, Staples, or Walmart. We will equitably sort the cards sent to the House of Studies and distribute them to the seminarians at Christmas time.
2) You can also make an online donation through our
Please note that the donation is for the Christmas Giving Tree. Funds will be equitably split amongst the seminarians.
Thank you kindly in advance for your generosity and know of our prayers for you and your loved ones. God bless.
The Nourishment of the Faithful: Our Main Motivation
By Deacon Carlos Ardila
Seeking understanding of the unfathomable Mystery of God and ourselves is part of being human. This understanding is not simply cognitive; it has a four-fold movement: human development, spiritual growth, intellectual knowledge, and community application or service. These four movements or aspects are intimately related. This is particularly important in priestly life.
Conversely, initial priestly formation focuses on four pivotal areas: human maturity, spiritual life, academic life focused on philosophical and theological reflection, and pastoral application. Regarding academic formation, we do not engage studies because of mere academic purposes; they are part of a growth process that happens through the reciprocal and constant collaboration with the other areas.
Although the specific academic requirements for becoming a priest may vary throughout the universal Church, ideally, anyone who wants to be ordained is expected to go through thorough philosophical and theological preparation.
I am a newly ordained Deacon from the Diocese of Worcester, studying at St. Mary’s Seminary and University. Here at St. Mary’s, there are two basic types of programs or degrees; ecclesiastical and professional. For the most part, we all are expected to at least graduate from the first cycle of general studies in Theology before ordination, which is an ecclesiastical degree known as the Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology Degree (STB). Most seminarians go further and graduate from a Master of Divinity, which is a pastorally focused professional degree. We also have special cases of seminarians who go even further and earn a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL), which is an advanced ecclesiastical Degree. The successful completion of Comprehensive Exams (Comps) is one of the requirements for graduation from many of these programs.
Deacon Carlos Ardila searches for a book in the library.
On January 20, 2021, the Fourth Theology class at St. Mary’s will be taking Comps. Please pray for us. Comps are not only a requirement for graduation, but they are an educational experience that allows us to appropriate our theological education on Catholic Teaching and its application in today’s world.
As you can see, studying is a fundamental activity in priestly life, and we know that we could not do it without the spiritual and material support of many. As I approach the end of my initial formation, I have come to realize that the best way to thank our supporters is to be prepared to serve them to the best of my ability. I assure you that our beloved Diocese of Worcester takes our priestly formation very seriously not just because they are interested on fostering our self-realization, but because you, the faithful, deserve it.
To register for Behind the Veil,
Father Donato Infante
on Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 7:23PM