The Diocese of Des Moines
J-Term at St. Paul Seminary
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.


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