The monthly recollection weekend in the seminary is a time for seminarians like me to pause for a while and look back on the thoughts, feelings and experiences that we encountered in our formation journey. The recollection last October 24-25, 2020, guided by Rev. Fr. John Barro, the seminary’s Director for Spiritual Formation, asked us to look back and see the grace of God at work even when we were sent home due to the pandemic.
I, for instance, had stayed with my family for more than five months before I was called to return to the seminary in this current formation year. At home, I saw personally the struggles of my parents and siblings as well as my own struggle to live up to the identity of being a priest-in-process. But the pandemic has also shown me what to be grateful for – the opportunity to be with my family in this trying time and the grace to journey with them. Prayer sustains me in my formation. Prayer sustains my family in their own formation too. I saw it myself when I stayed with them during the quarantine. Theirs is a formation of the heart. Theirs is a formation of trust in God’s providential care.
Introducing us to the exemplar life and virtues of Saint Joseph, Fr. John has touched each seminarian’s heart to entrust to Saint Joseph’s intercession all our fears and worries for our family whom we have since left when we began our seminary formation anew. Because of the pandemic, we feel all the more the need for the intercession of Saint Joseph, the protector of the Holy Family, and the protector of the Universal Church. He provided for the needs of Mary and Jesus. He protected them from any danger.
As a challenge for us seminarians to be like Saint Joseph, we were taught to make a Saint Joseph’s cord, which we could wear as a girdle for purity, chastity, humility and obedience. The cords that we made were blessed at the end of our recollection weekend at evening prayer. This recollection weekend made me realize that my vocation is like that of Saint Joseph: to be a protector of the family and of the Church – discreetly, humbly, silently – but with utter fidelity.
Sem. Keith R. Buenaventura is a third year theology student and is currently in his fifth year of seminary formation. Sem. Keith was an investment risk analyst prior to his entrance to the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary. He is from the Diocese of Antipolo.