" When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord." ~Luke 2:22-23
The time has finally come when, following the example of St Joseph and the Blessed Mother, Paul and I were called to make our own presentation of our first-born son to the Lord. Early on Tuesday, August 21st, we packed up John's belongings and together with John's four siblings and our dear friend, and in our hearts, a sibling as well, Fr. Matthew Widder, we traveled from Milwaukee to Chicago to "present" John to the Lord for the beginning of his seminary career at St. Joseph's College Seminary at Loyola University, where he will prepare for the diocesan priesthood in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
|John and his entourage|
Our pilgrimage, as Fr. Matthew called it, began with daily Mass at our home parish. Following Communion, Fr. Dave offered a special blessing for John as he begins his seminary career. Armed with the prayers of family and friends and the protection of a first-class relic of St. Pius X on his feast-day, a gift from my oldest sister Diann which she had received from our friend Fr Jim Kubicki, SJ, all eight of us climbed into our battered van, loaded with a few boxes of John's belongings, and we prayed the rosary as we began the two-hour drive to Chicago. We were blessed with beautiful weather for the drive and move.
|in his room with the relic of St. Pius X|
When we got to Chicago we went out to lunch and then moved John into his room. He didn't have very many belongings so it took about 15 minutes to get him settled. With a few hours to spare before some scheduled meetings for the seminarians and families, we walked over to nearby St. Ignatius Church. We were blessed to meet Kathy Morris, the pastoral associate, who kindly gave us a personal tour. She was pleased to share the magnificence of St. Ignatius with pilgrims from Milwaukee since our Archbishop Listecki had been the pastor at St. Ignatius during some of the major renovations done to maintain it's beauty. And it is so gorgeous! I will be posting more about the tour in another post.
|John and Fr. Matthew at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Shrine on the Loyola Campus|
Then we walked along Lake Michigan and all around the campus. We stopped at the Madonna del Strada Chapel for some silent prayer before returning to the seminary. After the welcoming meetings the families and seminarians joined each other for Mass in Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. We sat right by the stained glass window of the Presentation. I was struck by the gospel passage from Matthew 19:23-30 that read: "And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life." It seemed very fitting to reflect upon these words on the day when Paul and I were "giving up" our son to service for the Lord and our son was also "giving up" so much of himself for the love of God.
Following Mass all of the seminarians and families enjoyed a fine dinner and before we left, Fr. Matthew blessed John and his room. We all offered a tearful and emotional goodbye. Everyone, including me, was surprised that I didn't completely break down in tears. Maybe it's because we were all so chatty during the day and I didn't get a chance to think too much about how I was feeling. But as we left John's room, I realized how quiet his life at the seminary will be compared to our noisy home life and I wondered if the silence will intensify feelings of loneliness in his heart. When we finally left the seminary just as twilight was overcoming the city, John walked us to the gate and he leaned over it, watching us walk all the way down the street until we turned the corner and with a final wave he turned and walked back to the seminary.
"And a sword will pierce your very soul." ~Luke 2:39
|the new seminarian|
Please pray for John and for all of the seminarians at St. Joseph's College Seminary as they begin their studies this year.