With this summer being my last as a graduate student, I sought to make the most of it with stays in 22 different cities across six different countries and two continents. The core of my summer revolved around a three week course in Rome at the Centro Pro Unione , and I supplemented the experience with visits to spiritual sites in France and Spain.
I’ll attempt to capture the highlights in a few posts, and first I want to describe the “bookends” of my summer travels in New York. Most summers begin with a weekend trip to New York City for a priestly ordination Mass. The Paulists turn this weekend into an annual reunion of sorts with a Mass and dinner to honor Paulists celebrating 10, 25, 40, and 50 years of priestly ministry. In moving homilies and speeches stories of the struggles and joys of their years as Paulists. It’s always deeply moving for me to gain this new perspective on priestly and communal life, a perspective can’t be taught in a classroom as much as the secrets of a good marriage can’t be studied in a book. It’s also refreshing to hear such honesty in a culture where everything is artfully staged and curated by marketers. Even though I won’t know the true joys and challenges of priesthood until I live it, I have learned from the other priests that God will provide both moments of great joy and the resources to live through the challenges.
After the ordination weekend, the seminarians disperse to their various summer assignments across the country. Then during the first week of August we reunite at the Paulist retreat house on Lake George in New York. This tradition of spending time together at Lake George dates back to 1868. Many retired priests and Paulists using their time vacation gather at the Lake as well, and countless stories from the past and present.
Isaac Newton, echoing Bernard of Chartres, famously said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” The Paulist gatherings that bookend student summers allow us to do just through the conversations with others who combined have lived the Paulist life for centuries.