MORE ABOUT SEMINARIANS
In two weeks I will celebrate Mass for our diocesan seminarians prior to their return to their respective seminaries. Then we have dinner and I give the men an opportunity to dialogue with me about anything which they wish to bring up. Temerity does still somewhat rule the moment but more and more the softball questions are giving way to the curveballs and it is a give and take which I enjoy and look forward to. I think the latest count stands somewhere around thirty-three for the seminary this year with two at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, one at the North American College in Rome and the rest at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida.
However, often lost in these reflections are the men who are studying for priesthood within religious orders and congregations. Perhaps overlooked because we often are not informed of those who choose religious life, they are nonetheless a blessing from God and the diocese to the Church. I know of two men studying for the Society of Jesus (there may be more) and one for the Franciscans. I am sure that by the time of the convocation of seminarians, I will have heard from parents and others of still more.
As often happens in my blog composition, all of this is by way of foreward to another thing I wish to share with you. If any reader has been to a liturgy which I have celebrated the past three years, the odds are 9 to 1 that you noticed a young man assisting me, the servers and the pastor and associates of the parishes. Unflappable, always kind to the servers, and incredibly helpful in celebrating a good liturgy, this young man has also served the diocese as its “webmaster”, the mastermind of the technical details of my blog, and more often than not, my driver (something I resisted for twelve years until one day at lunch I mentioned to my closest collaborators that I noticed that coming back from evening confirmations I would often find myself daydreaming and miss the Fourth Street North exit off the Howard Franklin to my home). That did it and they went on a search for a multi-talented person who could do something in the diocese which was useful, drive and assist me with ceremonies, and be unfailingly helpful to the parishes where we would be going.
Walter C. Pruchnik III had been an ACE teacher at St. Petersburg Catholic following his graduation from Notre Dame University and a year following the conclusion of his time with us as a teacher, he was looking for something to do as a transition, perhaps to marriage or to religious life. He applied, was hired and has assisted me for three years. Girl altar servers will remember the handsome young “priest” who helped the fat, balding bishop. Walter leaves the diocese today to begin a year of discernment for the Congregation of Holy Cross at his beloved Notre Dame. If all goes well and God and the community call him, he will enter the Novitiate in Colorado next summer for a year and then theology studies leading to ordination. Most of the priests of this diocese would second my conclusion that the Holy Cross Fathers are lucky to be getting Walter as a candidate. He so loves his alma mater and the community that founded it, that neither the Vocation Directors nor I have put a lot of pressure on him to think about diocesan priesthood but he will always be welcome should he choose to come here. He has been thoroughly private and professional in his time here and with me and I am so incredibly grateful for his dedication to his work, his love of the Church, and his loyalty to me. I think for purpose of our prayers, we should promise to include Walter in them every time we pray for those studying for priesthood and the religious life. Thank you Walter, blessings and happiness to you at Moreau Seminary this year and next, go Irish, and it has been a wonderful ride. May Notre Dame our mother intercede with her son for you and for all of us you leave behind.