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Waiting: A Seminarians Journey

On a hot August day six years ago when I drove up to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis to move in, my first thought was not how long I would call this place home. To be honest, as I stood in the shadow of the massive tower, my main thought was that of fear. During orientation and the following first weeks of school, I was filled with anticipation and zeal for the priesthood. Nine years did not seem that long of a wait. I was wrong. It took NASA’s “New Horizons” space probe nine years to travel from Earth to Pluto. Nine years may not seem like a long time, in theory, but it is a long time to wait.

All seminary formation is characterized by one common goal: for the seminarian to be the best man he can be on his ordination day. Everything in my life is directed toward that day (for me, May 25, 2019). The seminary formation includes a lot of prayers, a lot of classes, and a lot of meetings. Sometimes it can be easy to become bogged down by everything. You start to question if all this time is worth it. Then you go to Mass and are so energized by the Sacrament that your zeal overflows again.

I have now been in the seminary for six years; for all of you keeping track at home, I only have three years to go! Three years seem like a long time, but it’s a lot closer than when I started. It is very easy for me to fall into a mindset that I am ready for the priesthood now (just as I foolishly thought six years ago); that all this waiting is meaningless. But the waiting gives my future priesthood more meaning.

The reality is I am not ready to be a priest yet. I don’t know if I will be ready to be a priest in May of 2019 either, but the waiting brings me closer to God and better configures me to the priesthood. The waiting allows me to recognize where I need to grow and improve. The waiting gives me opportunities to experience a taste of the priesthood in new ways that allow me to fall in love with Jesus again and again. The waiting makes the pain of my inadequacies very real.

Waiting is not meant to be easy. Time seems to slow down when we are anxiously awaiting our next great vacation, or Christmas morning, or even sharing a cup of coffee with a good friend who we haven’t seen in a while. The waiting makes the experience that much richer. The waiting or preparation does not detract from the main event. God is with us always (Psalm 46:7).

Three years seem to be a long ways off, nine years even farther! But I know that God is with me. I have hope, hope that grows with the waiting. Every Advent when we are reminded about waiting for the Lord to come, I cannot help but think of my own waiting period. My hope is that I do not become discouraged at the time left. My hope is similar to the silent anticipation in the tomb waiting for that glorious Sunday morning; I can rejoice with the Lord and look forward with a joyful heart at what Jesus is preparing to do with my heart in three years and this Advent season. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope.” (Psalm 130:5)

 

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About the Author

Patrick Russell

A human. Being. Born at a very young age. I am obsessed with all things St. Louis. My family is my rock. I am a sucker for good TV and better books. I’m a coffee-drinker and Elf enthusiast. I am part leprechaun. I rap occasionally but always sing in my car. I have been in the seminary since 2010 and I couldn’t be happier. I am currently serving as a seminarian intern at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Washington, MO. I am blessed and loved beyond words.