The Beauty of Seminary Sports

This past January, the seminary basketball team, nicknamed the Bruté Buffaloes, traveled to Mundelein Seminary for the annual Father Pat O’Malley Invitational basketball tournament. This is my favorite seminary sport tournament of the year; it is basically the NCAA tournament of seminaries.

I had the special opportunity to coach the team this year after I was unable to play because of an injury. I was originally disappointed that I would not be able to play in the tournament games, but coaching offered me a different perspective on the tournament. Because I was off the court during the games, roaming the sidelines like a bonafide head coach, I was able to step back and enjoy the tournament for what it was: a beautiful opportunity for fraternity, human formation, and the advancement of vocations.

These tournaments make for great fraternity between the seminarians. For Bruté, the basketball team is a close-knit group of guys. We bond over the course of the practice season and the tournament itself. It is a great opportunity to grow closer to each other as teammates. However, this fraternity is not limited to just within a particular seminary but between all the seminaries. At the tournament, I see this especially with the way that the different seminaries root for each other. Bruté, as one of the few minor (or college) seminaries at the tournament, is always rooted for by the other seminaries. This is because everyone loves an underdog, and the minor seminaries are a clear underdog because the major seminaries have more players to choose from and older players.

I am always edified at the end of the games when all the players come together, shake hands, and pray. It’s so good to see the players who just played their hearts out for an entire game, re-center themselves, and join with their opponents in a peaceful moment of prayer. It’s a beautiful witness to the purpose of the tournament: to bring seminarians together in fraternity and faith.

One might think that a weekend of basketball and fun is separate from the goal of seminary formation, but the opposite is very much true. I think tournaments like these are good, especially for human formation. Human formation is one of the central dimensions of seminary formation. It focuses primarily on the formation of the man into a better man, and these tournaments give seminarians the opportunity to learn to work cooperatively, compete respectfully, and form an active lifestyle. Of course, the cooperative work at these tournaments is the work of the team towards the goal of winning. This requires communication and sacrifice, both extremely important skills to learn. Respectful competition is important because being able to compete, lose, and win with class is crucial to life. Forming and maintaining an active lifestyle is vital, and it is achieved with the act of playing the game (running, jumping, etc.) and the preparation for the tournament (practices -yes, we have practices-, laps, and drills in the gym). These are all important to the formation of priests as able to work with others, accept winning and losing, and live an active lifestyle.

These tournaments are good for the advancement of vocations because they show seminarians in a different light. Seminarians are able to get out of the seminary and into the real world; they are able to be seen as normal men discerning God’s will for their lives. Whenever I travel to a school in my diocese to visit the students, I always make a point to say that ‘seminarians are just normal guys.’ This is not to mention the fact that the kids love hearing about the stories of the sports we play, and then they want to see the seminarian’s real skills and play with them at recess. This experience for a young man is impactful because the seminarian and seminary life becomes tangible for him in that moment, and maybe, he becomes able to put himself into the seminarian’s shoes and see himself as a future seminarian.

Overall, seminary sport tournaments are awesome. They have given me some of my favorite memories from my time at Bruté, from buzzer-beaters to long tournament runs, and some of my greatest friends. These tournaments have taught me to be a better man and to praise the Lord always, even after a tough loss.


Nicholas Monnin

Nick Monnin is a seminarian from the Class of 2021 studying for the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend

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New Year, New Eve

Happy 2019! I’m more than sure that you’ve already been greeted with at least one, “Wow, I haven’t seen you since last year!” joke, so I’ll spare you. I think most will agree with me in saying that 2018 was too quick a year and its events way too unexpected. But I would say it’s a good thing when the events of the year don’t turn out as we planned because, the truth of the matter is, what we want isn’t always what God wants. And if we all had our way, then the world would be in even more chaos than it already is! So we can at least begin 2019 knowing one thing, to expect the unexpected.

Having said that, you might ask yourself, “What’s the best way to greet the New Year?” I don’t know about you, but as great as the whole feeling of “starting over” is, it’s also easy for me to feel intimidated by it. It’s kind of like when you go to confession and experience healing and renewal, but also a sense of fear for messing up again. So how does one find the courage to face the New Year without being overwhelmed by fear of messing up? Thankfully, the Church in her wisdom is always a good source of guidance. She shows us that the best way for one to greet the New Year is by greeting Mary.

As we know, every year on January 1st, we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God. I think the Church has this be the first celebration of the Year for a very good reason, that is, so that we can recognize Mary as the Mother of God, and in doings so, recognize her as our Mother as well. She is the perfect advocate and guide for beginning the year, because of the intimate relationship she has with Our Lord. We ask her to intercede for us so that she can take us by the hand and help us to always tread on God’s path. In doing so, we won’t have reason to fear, because if we fall and mess up (which we probably will), Mary our Mother will be there to pick us right back up. And when we encounter the unexpected, we know to trust, as Mary did, that it is part of God’s mysterious plan.

It’s important to keep Mary’s fiat in mind when making resolutions for the New Year. As we read the story of the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, it might seem as if Mary’s “yes” to the Angel’s proposal was easy and simple. All she had to do was say that she accepted the terms and conditions. However, as we read the Gospels we recognize one of Mary’s best attributes, namely, her fidelity to God. Mary had to remain faithful to that response that she gave to the Angel as soon as she uttered it, and we see that Mary was always consistent and steadfast in keeping her word. This, as we know, is why we call Mary the “New Eve”, because while Eve failed to keep God’s will, Mary remained faithful.

In this same way, we have to work to keep the resolutions that we make for ourselves this New Year. We have to make concrete resolutions, not vague ones that will be easy to dismiss. Lord knows that every year we say things like, “I’m going to workout more!” or “I’m going to pray more!” but we don’t follow through! Instead we should say, “I’m going to run for 20 minutes every morning,” or, “I’m going to pray a decade of the rosary every night before bed.” These concrete resolutions will help to keep ourselves in check and measure just how faithful we’re being to them. When we make vague resolutions, we’re just making it easier for ourselves to not go through with them. But if we choose to exercise our constancy, we’ll become more faithful in the little things and in the great things after the example of Mary the New Eve and Mother of God.


David Martinez

David Martinez is a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana and is a member of the Class of 2020.

The Catholic Both/And

Last July I was able to attend Archbishop Thompson’s installation last July and it was very moving for me. I was especially moved by listening to his homily, in which he addressed the increasing polarization in the Church and the mentality of either/or. Even among people I know and love, there is an attitude of either/or: ‘either you are for life or you are for the poor,’ ‘either you are for the refugees or national security.’ Instead of falling into these seeming dichotomies, Archbishop called us to bridge the gap of increasing polarization in the church on a number of issues and to adopt the mindset of the catholic both/and. He then listed a number topics that require the catholic both/and:

The Catholic Both/And necessarily requires sound catechesis and bold evangelization, if we are to make a difference in the progress of humanity rather than be mere bystanders pushed around by the winds of change, denial and criticism of irrelevance.  We must be concerned about both worship and service, Word and Sacrament, Scripture and Tradition, Head and Body, clergy and laity, commandments (as we heard in the first reading) and beatitudes, tone and content (what good is it for us if we speak the truth, but say it in a way that drives away the very souls we’re trying to save?), justice and mercy, doctrine and pastoral care initiatives, marriage and family, faith and reason, spirituality and religion, healing wounds and warming hearts, holiness and mission, personal prayer and communal prayer, formation and education, local and universal belonging, security and welcoming, rights and responsibilities, speaking and listening, cross and empty tomb, passion and resurrection, and as the Benedictines who taught me remind us, Ora et Labora, prayer and work. It all must matter to us. To be effective and credible witnesses to our Catholic faith and the Joy of the Gospel, we cannot make decisions or act with an “either/or” mentality of ignoring one for the other. In essence, as an example of the necessary balance, we must provide a fish or two as we teach people how to fish.

Archbishop Thompson has also released a pastoral letter to the Archdiocese this past Ash Wednesday. In it, he explores the various issues that affect the nation, as well as our local community in Central and Southern Indiana.

The first key principle of Catholic social teaching is respect for the dignity of each and every human person—regardless of race, sex, nationality, economic or social status, educational background, political affiliation or sexual orientation—as created in the image and likeness of God. All are equal in dignity. No one is “better” than anyone else. All deserve respect. All share basic human rights. No one is exempt from the responsibility to support and assist fellow human beings—whether they are from the same family/community, or they are strangers who are foreign to us in some way. Every human person, as created in the image of God, is a member of God’s family. For Christians, this also means that we are sisters and brothers of Christ and each other.

All sins against the dignity of persons, including the taking of a human life, sexual abuse and sexual harassment, rape, racism, sexism, nativism and homophobia, are violations of this fundamental principle. We can (and sometimes must) disapprove of the behavior of others, but we may never belittle, disrespect or abuse others simply because of our differences, no matter how serious.

The Gospel calls us to do radical things. We cannot reduce the Gospel to merely defending the unborn or merely a social justice movement. We are not conservative or liberal, we are Catholic. The same Lord who says “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” also says “I was hungry and you fed me”. Our salvation depends on how we treated ALL our neighbors. In Matthew 25, the Lord declares that the goats and the sheep will be sorted, not just on their vote for life or vote for a cost of living increase for food stamps, but what they personally did to him in the least of our brothers and sisters. In the book of Exodus, God tells his people through Moses “You shall not oppress an alien; you well know how it feels to be an alien, since you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt (Ex 23:9).”

Being Pro-Life does not stop at protecting the lives of the unborn, but at respecting life at every stage; from conception to natural death. This means that we must respect the human dignity of the elderly parishioner who is suffering from loneliness, the child who calls the family van “home”, the refugee who flees their home country, not to seek a better life, but merely to stay alive, or even the college student who lives in the fear of deportation and separation from his family merely because he accompanied his parents in pursuit of the dream of freedom and opportunity.

It is possible, and necessary, to take a stand for life at all stages. This is seen beautifully in the life of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  She devoted her entire life to taking care of the poorest of the poor and those rejected by society, while at the same time, denounced over and over again the heinous act of abortion. The same woman who said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish” was the same woman accompanied the destitute, the lepers and the orphans. Her life’s work shows how the two can’t be separated without removing the heart and soul of each movement.

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.

Here are the links to Archbishop Thompson’s homily:

http://www.archindy.org/archbishop/installation2017-mass-homily.html

Thompson’s pastoral letter:

http://www.archindy.org/archbishop/installation2017-mass-homily.html

Poverty at the Crossroads (A document written by the Indiana Catholic Bishops on poverty in the state)

http://www.archindy.org/archbishop/poverty-2015.html

Cardinal Tobin’s statement on DACA

http://www.rcan.org/statement-cardinal-joseph-w-tobin-rescission-daca-executive-order

 


Liam Hosty

Liam Hosty is a seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and a member of the class of 2020.

Christ in Our Midst

Altar serving at a funeral Mass recently left me with quite a few takeaways. All funerals are sad in nature to some extent, but this one was particularly moving given that there were only ten people present. Four of the mourners were parishioners who showed up out of devotion or simply happened to be present at the time. The other six were not family members and were not Catholic, indicated by their clear unfamiliarity with a church setting.

I remember thinking in between my prayers for the repose of the soul of the deceased how strange the whole Mass must have been to those six individuals. They walked into a church, an environment that can make just about anyone uneasy, and were attending a service for a man they could barely call a friend. I can only imagine how peculiar the sights and smells must have been to them- the formalized structure of the prayers, the young men in what appeared to be black dresses with white garments donned over them, the statues and detailed stained-glass windows depicting the saints. Yes, it is safe to say that the whole experience was a recipe for puzzlement straight out of the cookbook- a new environment mixed with a half measure of guardedness and finished off with just a pinch of curiosity.

I remember thinking to myself that the Mass could have been the only encounter that those people will ever have with Christ and his Church. What kind of an impression did it have on them? What kind of thoughts went through their mind as father elevated our Creator before their very eyes? Did what we partook in draw them closer to our Lord? Did anything lead them away from the Truth?

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I think that having this perspective, reminding yourself as a person of faith that your encounter with someone might be the closest that another person ever comes to Christ, is the key to being a faithful Christian. Did not Christ himself treat people with love and compassion in every encounter? He too is fully human. He too was tired and frustrated, yet he chose to approach them with all that he had.

Perhaps the best way in which we as Christians can prepare ourselves for these encounters is by having something to say. I do not mean that we should have a set of rehearsed lines carried around on an index card in our pockets, but rather that this is a matter of voicing from our hearts and minds to another person whom we encounter what it means to be a disciple of Christ and exactly why it is the only thing worth giving all for. This then should be seen as our call.

Seeing God in another is difficult in our world. Society labels people by race, religion, orientation, social class (but ironically preaches individuality) and in so doing creates divisions. Pornography and the lull of a capitalist society make people out to be objects, and the undesirable are cast aside. The challenge is certainly daunting. Yet, seeing Christ in others is a choice, much like faith, to respond. Regardless of our perspective, each person that we encounter is made Imago Dei, in the image of God. Let us not forget this. It seems beneficial in the midst of a difficult situation to reach a point of awareness and in so doing to find a way to remind yourself that the person you are engaging, all persons in fact, are counting on you to be Christ in their midst- whether they realize it or not.


Owen Duckett

Owen Duckett is a seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and is a member of the Class of 2019.