December 3, 2013
Written By: Zach Daly
The day after Thanksgiving, one year ago, Bishop Pates asked me if I would consider applying to the North American College in Rome for at least four years of study in theology in preparation for the priesthood. I agreed, thinking it would be a difficult experience; and it has been difficult. Theology, difficult in any language, requires even more concentration when it is being taught in Italian, and the seminary is very far away from home. I miss all the families I met in parishes around the Diocese during my three years of work in the Totus Tuus program, and I of course have missed my own family – especially as holidays come and go. It has been difficult but I can say I’m happy here.
I’m happy for many reasons: one is because I am deepening my love for God by being immersed in the history of our Faith. There is a very large church called Santa Maria Sopra Minerva which is on one of the routes I take to get to the University; this church houses the remains of the great mystic St. Catherine of Siena. I will usually stop at this church to pray for those who are close to me, and I often think to pray for all the faithful of the Diocese of Des Moines (since I come from the Italian part of Des Moines, I guess I have a bias towards Italian saints). All of the churches here are virtual graveyards, with many people (sometimes hundreds) buried in them. This can be seen as morbid or, as our Faith would suggest, a beautiful sign that these brothers and sisters who have gone before us are still united with us through the Church which is the Body of Christ: “I am sure that neither death, nor life… nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
I am also happy to turn my full attention to theology, which I am studying so that on one level I may know God Himself better and to serve Him more completely and then, building on that foundation, that I may serve the people whom I believe I am called to serve more effectively. Our Faith is one that loves Truth and reason; St. Augustine once said “if faith does not think, it is nothing.” Learning the deep theology of the Church is something that I take very seriously, and something that I see as being bound up with the ministry of the priest. Our God is real, and we can always learn more about Him; and learning more about Him can stir our hearts to love Him more. I am looking forward to the time when I will return to Diocese; in the meantime, pray for me – everyday if you can. I am always in great need of your prayers. Thank you all the support you give to us!
January 7, 2013
Written By: Zachary Daly
Discerning my call to the priesthood in the Diocese of Des Moines has been a long process that has involved a lot of study and prayer. I began to think that I may be called when I was fourteen years old, but my non-religious upbringing made this a difficult prospect for me. My parents raised me with a passionate love for truth and learning, but as both had drifted away from the Church by the time I was born I was not baptized when I was an infant. Anticipating that expressing an interest in the priesthood would cause friction in my family, I turned my mind to other careers as diverse as education, music composition and performance, social work, and professional entertainment.
Though I could easily see myself performing the skills necessary for any one of the fields above, the priesthood is unique because it is not just a career; it is an entire lifestyle. The lifestyle of the priest, expressed in celebrating the Eucharist, being with people in the most important moments of their lives, teaching the truths of God, and living the celibate life continued to appeal to me during my first year of college. After much time considering the possibility, and quite a bit of time in prayer, I applied to the Diocese for formation to the priesthood.
This brings me to the present-day. I am in my last year of what is called “minor seminary.” This means that I am completing my four-year philosophy degree, and that I am approaching an important event known as “Candidacy” – which is a public expression of my own discernment, as well as the Bishop’s acceptance of my hope to be ordained. At this point in my discernment, I am experiencing a deeper understanding of the priest-as-father. I am finding that everything which initially attracted me to the priesthood as a young teenager is now being integrated into a notion of spiritual fatherhood. The priest, like the father of his children, provides food for those under his care through the table of the Eucharist, and hear the confession of those his loves and extends forgiveness – which is also done in the name of God the Father. The priesthood is a unique vocation, and a special union with God’s own Fatherhood. I sincerely hope to be able to live this life fully and publicly for the good of all of God’s people.
The most important part of my “vocations story” is that I have had no dramatic moments. I didn’t hear the Voice of God telling me what to do; I didn’t see the Holy Spirit descend; St. Peter didn’t appear to me in a dream. Instead, I am where I am today only because of my love of God and the truth, and because of a long period of prayer and discernment. I am grateful for the time that I’ve spent in seminary formation thus far, and I look forward to the future full of hope and confidence in God’s Will.
~Zach Daly will graduate Saturday, May 25, 2013 from Loras College, St. Pius X Seminary. With Zach the Office of Vocations thanks his dear parents, family members, future brother priests, and all those who support him by their love and prayers. He plans to receive the Rite of Candidacy on Sunday, June 16, 2013 at Christ the King in Des Moines at the 11 AM Mass. All are invited. ~
October 20, 2011
Written By: Fabian Moncada
Indeed the summer of 2011 will remain in my memory as a manifestation of God
working through the events of everyday life.
The summer began with the Catholic Ministry of the Sick and Suffering Practicum, a
newly created program of 9 weeks by the Seminary of St. Paul. In fact, the program
was designed to allow each participant to deepen the theological foundation of the
spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and then put it into practice through a silent
retreat of ten days. This silent retreat was a powerful experience of the encounter
and union with the love of God that showed those participating the weaknesses and
areas in one's life requiring special attention on the spiritual, moral or ethical. Being
able to dialog daily during the retreat with the Spiritual Director was a great grace.
Overall, the retreat was a wonderful experience of silence and contemplation.
The next step was an inside look at the practical stage of preparation for the priesthood; to do the work of ministering to the sick in hospitals, to discover Jesus in the person who is suffering and needing consolation, compassion and mercy. Indeed, ministering to the sick and sharing in their suffering with them through their ailments, their loneliness, and their hope that so often is dissipated in medical diagnostics, led me to find in intercessory prayer the most compassionate and merciful way of pleading for not only physical health but the spiritual health of souls to which I was ministering. I discovered the face of Our Lord in the sick and suffering. I was able to see beyond the smells, the medical instruments, and the interpretation of science to the humanity of the fragility, small size, and defenselessness of the sick and suffering.
The hospital experience touched my soul in three ways: the first was "Humility" and I refer specifically to where I disappeared completely so that our Lord Jesus was the one doing the visit, it was God’s work through me. A clear example of this were the moments when the silence was the most effective way of communicating the action of God and the expectation of His Divine Will. The second aspect was "Charity," defining the act of unconditional love, to go beyond the defects or sin and to use the example of the Prodigal Son who was left to regain the joy of God in the life of the sick before stopping to judge their errors. This example may be a tangible source of the peaceful coexistence and friendships I fostered with patients of different beliefs or who simply expressed disbelief. The third way this experience touched my soul was "hope" that in spite of the circumstances in which science has a verdict on a disease, God our Lord may come and go beyond the ordinary, to manifest his love in an extraordinary and prodigious way that ultimately is what every soul awaits.
As a candidate for Holy Orders of the Diaconate and the Priesthood I feel that this experience should be an indisputable requirement for those seeking to consecrate their lives to the service of building the kingdom of God.
Finally, the summer ended with ten days at World Youth Day in Madrid Spain, a meeting filled with culture, youth, and a deep desire to live with the Holy Father. At WYD, the living spirit of Jesus in our midst was evident in the positivity and enthusiasm of countless young people that came from various corners of the world to meet with the Vicar of Christ and discover the universal Church. This is the Pope's Youth! Again and again we were reminded that we are sheep led by Pastor of Christ, Benedict XVI.
But I especially want to highlight these words spoken by His Holiness during the keynote address at the World Youth Day:
Dear friends, be prudent and wise, build your lives on the firm foundation that is Christ. This wisdom and prudence will guide your steps, nothing will make you shake your heart and peace will reign. Then you will be blessed, blessed, and your joy contagious to others. You ask for the secret of your life and find the rock that holds the whole building and it sits on your whole life is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God made man, which gives consistency throughout the universe. He died for us and rose again so that we might have life, and now, from the throne of the Father is still alive and close to all men, continually watching love for each one of us.
Benedict XVI - Plaza de Cibeles Madrid 19/08/11
To conclude, this hot summer was not only one of high temperatures but also one in which the action of the Holy Spirit that prevailed in my life at different times and ways.
What Joy! What joy! And what responsibility I feel to serve, love, and give everything to Jesus Christ our Lord and God!
December 9, 2010
Written By: Ross Parker
I would like to express my thankfulness to all the people who donated to this years diocesan Seminarian Appeal. Your generosity is truly humbling. Without your help I would not be able to continue in formation. I know that all of you work extremely hard, and that times are tight. I just want you all to know that I am working hard to be the best I can be every day. Although there are many ups and downs through seminary formation, it is nice to know that people really take an interest and support me in this process. Thank you again, and know that you all will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Yours in Christ,
*Ross Parker is a seminarian of the Diocese of Des Moines studying Theology at St. Meinrad Seminary, Indiana.
June 24, 2010
Written By: Ross Parker
We have only been going for three weeks, but IPF has been a very positive experience in my life thus far. In seminary we learn about God, but don’t spend as much time learning about deepening our relationship with God. The classes and working with my spiritual director at the Institute for Priestly Formation has really helped me to grow in my relationship with the Trinity.
The summer began with an eight day silent retreat, which has been the most positive experience of the program thus far. Being silent for eight days really helped me to get in touch with what was going on inside of me, and gave me much more time to discern the interior movements of my heart.
The program talks about being a novitiate for diocesan seminarians. I think that is the best way to describe the program. This program is exactly what I need in this time of my formation. Again, the main thing is that I am growing in my relationship with the Trinity and Mary. Everything that I do flows from my relationship with the Holy Trinity, and that relationship will one day God willing help me to be a good priest.
April 2, 2010
Written By: Adam Westphal
This January I had my first experience of "J-term" at the St. Paul seminary. It contains a 3 credit hour class crammed into one month. Our class this J-term was "spirituality of a diocesan priest" and focused primarily on the importance of maintaining an active prayer life once ordained. This is especially hard to do given the busy schedule of the parish priest.
The first week of J-term we went to Lacrosse, WI. There is a really nice pilgrimage place, (Link here), and there is also an amazingly decorated church that is attached to a convent. I would certainly recommend the pilgrimage place.
The second week of classes we had a retreat/conference/brotherhood building time at a local retreat center. The talks centered mostly on building a virtue-based pastoral approach; basically, how to build up Faith, Hope, Love (the three theological virtues) and Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance (the four cardinal virtues). We focused first on how encourage the growth of these virtues in our own lives; then, we discussed how to integrate these virtues into parish life. When classes were not going on, we spent time playing Balderdash and watching Band of Brothers. Great times.
The second week of J-term we spent here at the sem. Same format; class in the morning, afternoons free.
The third week of J-term we spent in Washington, D.C. at the march for life. Very powerful. The spirit of God certainly was moving at that event. It is amazing to see the fire of the young adults. 300,000 + people marched on Washington to show their support for personal dignity.
I had the chance while there to see many old friends from school, and to tour our nation's capital city. I especially like the National Cathedral, which has the most impressive stained-glass that I've ever seen. Thinking back, it is even more impressive than what I saw in Eurtope! I also had a chance to tour the national gallery, and am very impressed at their collection of religious art.
At the close of J-term, we went on a 5 day silent retreat. I've usually been pretty agitated at silent retreats, but this one was different. It was amazing. It was awesome. It was the best retreat I have ever been on. This retreat marked the 10 year anniversary of me giving my life to Jesus Chrrist at a Teens Encoutner Christ weekend, and God and I spent 5 days reflecting on His grace in my life over the last 10 years.
The retreat was at Broom Tree retreat center, in South Dakota. Well worth doing a guided retreat there. Plus, they have a Coca-Cola fountain machine.
That was J-term.