A DAY IN THE SEMINARY
Formation of priest in present day circumstances is challenging hence a day in the seminary will unravel what is being done to meet these challenges. This paper would disabuse the minds of people with the popular conception that the seminary is only a place where we go to read the bible. It will also bring to the fore a day in the life of the seminarian in the Seminary under the following headings: prayer, work, lectures and games.
To begin with, St. John Mary Vianney whose memorial we celebrate on the 4th of August every year once said that “My children, your hearts are small. But prayer will enlarge them and render them capable of Loving God. This profound statement of St. John Vianney sums up the prayer life of the seminarian on campus. Morning, afternoon, evening and night, the seminarian is challenged to pray; to sanctify almost every hour of the day. At 5:30am, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the Chapel where every Seminarian is encouraged to go and commune with the Lord for 30 minutes after which we all gather as a community to prayer at 6: 00am during which we ask the Lord to open our lips which literally close the previous night at 11pm. After our morning prayer, a 30 minute of meditation is observed by all to enable each seminarian as it were digest what we have the Psalms we have prayed that morning. The Church believes in silent prayer because it avails much and it exposes our wretchedness to us. That is why I could not agree more with Blaise Paschal when he says ‘ knowing God without knowing your wretchedness leads to pride; knowing God without your wretchedness leads to despair; knowing Jesus bridges the gap between knowing God and your own wretchedness. Silence brings us face to face with our own wretchedness and nakedness and above all makes us dependent on God totally. At 1: 40pm, Seminarians gather again in the Chapel for afternoon prayer. Furthermore, at 5: 30pm, we gather again for evening prayer (Vespers). After prayer, we gather again for spiritual conference or Spiritual reading (Lectio Divina). At night, that is after the seminarian has finished his activities for the day, he is encouraged to pray the night prayer to end the hustling and bustling of the day followed by the grace silence which will carry him through the night till the following day. As you can see, right from the word go, the Seminarian is encouraged to love prayer and so seek closer union with Christ.
There is dignity in labour as goes the popular dictum. Work is one of the most cherished moments in our formation. It is believed that work itself is prayer as expressed in the saying “laborare et orare (to work is to pray).” Work is part of our human nature because God who created us in His own image and likeness is a homophaber (a worker). The sociologist will say that man is the product of his work. Thus right from the Seminary, one’s attitude towards work is realized. The Seminarian is encouraged to work to the best of his capabilities. Various departments have been created not only to assist the Seminarian to develop and exhibit his talents but also it creates room for others to learn new things. Departments like carpentry, masonry, painting, electrical, plumbing, interior decoration, and so on. Aside these departments, every Seminarian are expected to weed the compound when the need arises. Thus Mondays and Fridays are days earmarked for general work where every seminarian is expected to join the whole school to work. Wednesdays and Saturdays are days when everybody who belongs to a particular department is required to join that department for work (Special work).
A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. Once again, every seminarian is encouraged to go for games. Activities such as football, volley ball, basket ball, lawn tennis, jogging, and the likes are undertaken every Tuesdays, and Saturdays at 3:30pm.
Lectures begin from 8: 00 and ends at 1:35pm everyday.
Comparing a day in the seminary to a day in a University of which I was a product, I can say without mincing words that a day in the Seminary is really packed; it is demanding. Unlike in the University where after lectures one is free, a day in the Seminary is packed to the extent that time is a scarce commodity like water in the desert. The Seminarian is of course being formed to take care of souls and his formation cannot but be holistic.
Formation in the seminary is supposed to make the Seminarian purpose oriented. To be purpose oriented is to discover that purposes do not come out of the blue. They reflect the voice of God in the inner spirit; they spring from a host of past experiences. This is what the Seminarian is formed to be. Every body can be great because every body can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You do not have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You do not have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in Physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace; a soul guaranteed by love. Prayer, work, games and academic work are all geared towards making the seminarian a man whose heart is full of love and service.
A day in the Seminary is interesting and challenging. It is indeed a daunty task to accomplish. However, it is worthwhile taking cognizance of the Herculean task that lies ahead of him.