by James Chester
As I look back my time at Conception Seminary is spotted with moments that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. When I am proposed with the question would I do it again, I don’t hesitate when I say yes. It has been an extraordinary time from being a freshman to being a senior on the verge of graduation.
When I first came here, I was twenty three years old. I had just quit a construction job that I really enjoyed and moved onto a dorm floor with a bunch of guys that had just graduated high school the previous year. They had all been living together for a semester already. There are fish out of water and then there was that situation. I thought that I had made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
I remember having the colored set of breviaries and thinking that everyone else was going to have all black and I was going to be the only guy with that kind. I know that this sounds very trivial now, but in that moment I was ready to bolt. The next morning I showed up to Office of Readings and everyone that I saw had the colored set. It was through little affirmations like the breviaries that things began to get better. I started to meet new friends and figure out which class room I was supposed to be in and at what time everything was. The schedule here is very much routine. The Benedictines kind of like it that way.
The thing about this routine is that you get what you put into it. What I am trying to say is that the amount you grow in self-knowledge and interior spiritual life is directly related to what you offer yourself for that growth. Luckily, when I was an underclassman there were a lot of great upperclassmen that where encouraging all of us to dive into what was being offered. It did take some time to trust people to that personal interior life. This was something that was completely new to me. When I was working construction I never started a conversation with “Why do you think that at the core level of myself I acted that way to that situation.” Once I let go of my fear of knowing myself, I was all in and it has been a fantastic experience.
These men that where strangers four years ago are now more than just classmates. We are now truly brothers. There has been countless times where a group of us have just been lost in conversation and not realize that hours have past and we have to be up in a few hours for prayer. These moments have gone by in a flash, but this flash has lit an enormous fire that fuels me to keep me going, to keep me looking forward to what wonderful things God has in store for me next.
~James Chester will graduate Saturday, May 11, 2013 from Conception Seminary. With James 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 Candiancy on Sunday, June 16, 2013 at Christ the King in Des Moines at the 11 AM Mass. All are invited. ~