For the nine young men at the St. Junipero Serra House of Formation in Grand Terrace, they have a daily routine quite different from ours as they prepare to become the priests that will serve our diocese in the future.
Receiving formation at Serra House is just the first stage for a diocesan seminarian; a young man interested in the priesthood in our diocese is assigned to Serra House for the first four or five years of his formation to study philosophy before being transferred to another seminary to study theology (either Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California or Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, Illinois). Once he has completed that stage, he is ordained a transitional deacon and then finally a priest.
At Serra House, the routine can vary slightly day to day, but there is generally morning and evening prayer, Mass, academic and formation classes, community meals and chores (such as cleaning up after meals) and time for recreation. They have a Holy Hour twice a week, singing lessons once a week and Toastmasters (public speaking) twice a month. On most weekends, they return to spend time with their families.
First-year seminarian Minh Hoang says that the routine provides much needed structure. “[Humans] are habitual creatures. I think that when we have things done at the right time, at the same time, that’s really helpful for us to just get in the habit,” said Hoang.
He said that he appreciated the time for prayer built in throughout the day as well. “Doing prayer consistently, it’s not even a chore. When we are able to move past that hurdle of looking of prayer as a chore, but instead to have a closer relationship with God, then I think that our prayer life gets better,” he said.
During the four or five years at Serra House, the seminarians pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, which is based in Connecticut but also offers an online program.
In addition to their academic studies at Holy Apostles, which include philosophy, pre-theology and general education classes, the seminarians take spiritual and formation classes taught by priests and laypeople at Serra House….
When they’re not spending time in prayer or classes, the seminarians have free time to spend alone or with the other seminarians. Everyone likes to spend their time a little differently, each having their own interests and hobbies. “I like to stay active. I like playing sports, and we also have a mini-gym in our recreation room, so I like to work out sometimes,” said second-year seminarian Anthony Gutierrez. First-year seminarian Ruben Chavarria is teaching himself how to play the piano, and a couple of the other seminarians say that his progress is impressive. Other seminarians enjoy hiking, running, biking, reading and more.
First-year seminarian Juan Samaniego shared that aside from attending Mass, his favorite part of the day is this recreational time in the evenings, where he can get a chance to unwind from the busy day. “The end of the day after dinner, I’m usually finished with all my homework, so I get to just relax, sketch a little bit, read a book … just knowing it was a productive day and you get to rest,” he said.
Several of the seminarians expressed how much they enjoy the opportunity to simply be in community with each other as they go about their day. “Having dinner with the brothers, having that community with each other, having time to sit down and just have discussions, conversations, asking brothers how their days are going, how their classes are going … is really meaningful to me,” said Gutierrez, the second-year seminarian.
First-year seminarian Jess Sanchez added that he appreciates the chance to learn from his fellow seminarians, who may have different personalities and mindsets from one another. “I like learning from each other. We all have different niches that we all need to get used to and accept about each other, so it’s learning to accept the differences with each other and then to just love one another for who we are, instead of judging them for how they look or what they say,” said Sanchez….
Original story at Inland Catholic Byte.