Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Different Seminary Life

I always like a look into other Catholic seminaries and how they run the place.

There was a recent article on a seminary that is a whole lot different from any diocesan seminary. No, I am not talking about the FSSP seminary in Omaha but a Neocatechumenal Way seminary in Denver.

Here's a snippet.

"The seminarians' wallets are empty, except for driver's licenses and insurance cards. To buy clothes or anything else, they must ask their superiors for money -- an exercise in obedience and a reminder that material things aren't important.

They have virtually no time alone, on or off campus, and are required to travel in pairs, like Jesus' disciples. They live in a world without cell phones or personal computers, and their evenings end promptly at 10.

No Roman Catholic seminary is a resort, but few men who study for the priesthood endure the sort of rules that govern life at the Redemptoris Mater House of Formation, which is in a leafy residential neighborhood in southeast Denver.

Redemptoris Mater is a new experiment in molding Catholic priests who are faithful to church teaching and authority, and zealous in their desire to lead other Catholics down that same road.

On one hand, the rules are a throwback to 50 years ago, when would-be priests led regimented existences apart from the rest of the world. But Redemptoris Mater men also teach the faith at parishes and spend two years on mission trips, knocking on doors looking for Catholics in Bronx housing projects or Minneapolis suburbs."

Here's the link for those who want to read more.

I remember thinking seminary would be something like this when I first thought about joining. But every seminary I have been to is much more worldly. We have a schedule and a ton of rules. Yet we are still very much in contact with culture, whether good or bad. Obviously there needs to be a healthy balance in every seminary. There needs to be a certain amount of structure, lest we become like a seminary of the 70s or 80s but not too much that we become like a seminary of the 50s. That's the beauty of seminary formation right now. We have kind of struck a balance and at least from my perspective, it's working. We are producing good, strong, and healthy priests ready to bring souls to Christ.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Where are the Men?

This is my fourth and last post on the Missionaries of Charity in Milan.

One day I did something no man should ever attempt to do. Well he can, but be warned, it is energy sapping. The Missionaries of Charity have a house that serves as a residence for over 25 women, some with young children. I went with the sisters and all of their women and children on a big outing to visit the shrine of St. Gianna Molla.

This time with all these women got me thinking, where are all the men? I was happy to be there. Overjoyed in fact. When else do I get to play with all these little children? But these children need fathers. Where are they? For me it was a reality check on how grave is the crisis of true masculinity in our world today. These men, for whatever reason, are not in the lives of their children. They have checked out.

As seminarians or future husbands, we need to continually rediscover what it means to be a man today so we can pass this on to future generations. We need good men to be good men.

We need men who are willing to sacrifice, to give up their lives, and it is not easy. I have learned from these women that caring for children is anything but easy and the only way it works is with sacrifice and ultimately with the grace of God.

The text I found enlightening on all this is by Fr. Roger Landry. Actually the one I will post here is more an outline of a larger text.

But I think we to constantly be deepening our own understanding of what it means to be a man. We cannot fail. Too many lives depend on us being what God has called us to be.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Cutting Edge of Missionary Work

This is my 3rd of 4 postings on the Missionaries of Charity in Milan.

After being in China for 7 weeks with the Maryknoll, I thought I had seen the missions. But my time spent in Milan has been the missions of a different sort.

Missionaries of Charity are on the cutting edge of missionary work. I guess for some reason I never quite saw them in that way. I saw them as providing charity all over the world, often in places with few if any Catholics. Yet there mission is not simply charity, not simply social workers, but missionaries in the true sense. Everywhere they go they seek to share their greatest joy, a living and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They are missionaries and they are working so much to save souls for Christ.

Part of the way I discovered the role of the Missionaries of Charity in true mission work was simply working with them in Milan. You would think a place like Italy would have no need for missionaries because it is ubber-Catholic but the reality is far from it. And here too there is great poverty. Not so much poverty of material means but a poverty of the presence of God. As Mother Teresa said:

"There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God."

photo by jenmaiser

I think the Missionaries have found in Milan a place hungering for the love of God and they are indeed sharing it. And they do not work simply with the poor, homeless, and hungry, but also with each volunteer who walks in the door. I have met many random Italians working by my side and hearing how much they love encountering God in the poor in the spirit of Mother Teresa. It draws them.

One of the sisters told me that Mother used to say, "We must go everywhere the priest cannot go." And so it seems they do. They meet the poor in the streets and those ordinary people longing to do something more. They meet all of them and point them directly to Christ.

There is a song they sing during one of their prayer periods which goes as follows:

Sweet Lord, Thy thirst for souls
I satiate, with my burning thirst all for Thee.
My chalice will be filled with love,
sacrifices made all for Thee.
Evermore, I will quench Thy thirst Lord.
Evermore, I will quench Thy thirst, Lord,
For souls,
In union with Mary our Queen
I will quench Thy thirst.

The words ring deep. They speak of the thirst of Jesus for souls and our desire to satiate that thirst. There is little need for explanation.

One of the sisters told me how when Russia finally invited Missionaries of Charity to come, she sent 5 groups and they were in the hospitals. They had no work to do and they could not leave the hospitals. Eventually, they started cleaning the toilets and halls. Mother came and encouraged them saying, "This may not be the exact work we want to do but even here we are witnessing and that is enough." What an image of the missions, cleaning toilets in a Russian hospital. But who knows where God will take you from there. They eventually were able to start serving the people of Russia in other ways.

photo by jimg944

I am no Missionary of Charity and I doubt I could ever be. But I realize that their zeal for missions should really find an outlet in my own work. One of the ideas that I think is most available for seminarians as future priests is to take the list of registered families in a parish and find out which ones do not attend Mass regularly or at all. Then simply start visiting one house at a time, dropping in just to introduce yourself as the parish priest, talking about upcoming events in the parish, and perhaps asking for any prayer requests. I always hear summer is the slowtime in a parish so why not use an hour a day and drop by a few homes. Perhaps this is even already being done in some places.

Ultimately, I think we need to discover new ways to evangelize, to satiate the thirst of Christ, to bring Catholics home. We need new energy and new creativity. That is our vocation. That is our salvation.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

For More Good News

We recently welcomed 57 new seminarians to the North American College. Though not quite as big as my class, they were very much welcome to the seminary. With a smaller class of priests and deacons leaving last year, our house has grown to about 225 seminarians and priests currently living and studying at the NAC.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Growing Up

It's true what they say--after high school, life just blazes by. 

A few weeks ago I had a little mini college reunion with my old pals from UC Davis.  One our of close friends got married in a beautiful ceremony at the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park, CA.  The different paths the Lord continues to call us on never seizes to amazes me.  I can still remember our biggest concern was getting to Fiji's Sushi buffet before the 12:00pm student rush.  Oh how life has changed. 

Five years after getting that coveted BA, my diaconate ordination approaches like a Southern California wild fire.  My other friends have moved on to other important, more adult concerns like morgages and careers.  But in all this, the one constant remains--Christ.  With a foundation like that, life can blaze by all its wants. 

Our Catholic faith remains the same.

Young Chicago woman runs half marathon to enter convent

That's the headline from Catholic News Service. Her story sounds pretty amazing. She raised like 80,000 dollars to pay off her debt and enter religious life. I just like the faith in believing that if God really wants you in religious life, then He will find a way. That's just amazing. God is so good. Her vocation story is also worth a read.


St. Matthew, ora pro nobis

Check this out:

I cover my head when I worship. I am not a Muslim woman but a Roman Catholic who attends Tridentine Mass.

...Novus Ordo was a response to the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, which declared that “the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance.”

Simplified it was, but substance? What I learned about my faith in those early years you could’ve stuck inside a fortune cookie.

Not surprisingly, then, I fell away from my faith in college — like so many other students — because the foundation of my beliefs was a pile of sand, not the solid rock of Christ. I stopped attending Mass and neglected my spirituality altogether.

I hear this a lot from Catholics who grew up in the 1970's and 80's: "I was horribly catechized, I knew nothing of my faith, I fell away for a few years, I came back after hearing a good speaker really drive home the rudiments of the faith." This is still largely the world we face as future diocesan priests - two generations worth of badly catechized lay Catholics. One of our professors, Fr. Bleichner, once said in one of his books that all prospective seminarians should be required to read through the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church before being admitted. He doesn't think words like "liberal" or "conservative" (or "Vatican II" and "JPII") are appropriate labels for young people these days because so many of us are still learning the names of the chess pieces, let alone playing the game, so to speak.

At one point I attended a couple of Greek Orthodox worship services. I remember there being something alluring in the stunning and elaborate series of rituals that I saw there.

You'd be surprised how often I hear this too. Many, many Catholics I've met in the Bay Area have told me they gave serious thought to converting to Orthodoxy. An increasingly common occurrence is Evangelicals swimming the Bosphorous instead of the Tiber. Why do you suppose that might be?

And that’s how I found myself at Our Lady of Sorrows in downtown Kansas City, and heard for the first time what Mass sounded like to countless generations of believers prior to Vatican II. It was in Latin, so I had no idea what the priest was saying. The strange old rituals of this Mass, what I’d come to know as the “smells and bells,” were completely foreign to me.

But it had me right away. I realized that very first hour that I had come home. The beauty and the reverence of this rite struck a chord deep inside of me that resounds to this day.

...But it’s not just about smells, bells and knowing what Agnus Dei means. For me, it is about experiencing the fullness of my faith.

When I attended Bishop Cordileone's High Mass yesterday, I was struck by how many young couples with children were in the pews. None of them were old enough to remember the pre-conciliar Church; I'm certainly not. I once told an older woman in a parish I was staying in that young people have a deep hunger for a greater sense of transcendence, mystery, and awe in the Mass. Many of them are finding it in the Extraordinary Form. She said, "But they're not old enough to remember it!" Think about that - the premise of that exclamation is that the only people who could love the EF are those indulging in nostalgia.

Those young Catholics who haven't fallen away from the Faith completely sense that there is more to the Faith than what they grew up with. They know that the Church did not begin with Vatican II. What I always tell people is, "I don't want to 'live in the past.' I just want there to be a little more continuity with it." Or to put it another way, "Why should we imitate the current fashions and trends in the wider culture? We'll always be five minutes behind the times, and young people can always find those trends in their undistilled forms outside the Church." That is why our current Holy Father is working so hard to restore a greater sense of Catholic identity.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back Home

photo by seminarian brother Luke

The 7 days of silence are over. Honestly, the days kind of merged into one super long day. Getting back, I feel like I have not even been gone a day. And good news, the 49ers won their first game! Retreat was powerful if not super intense. I always find the silence incredibly intimidating. But the Lord never fails to provide his grace, especially in those moments of trial. Perhaps my retreat can be summed up in one quote, paraphrased, that I heard during spiritual direction:

A man's love for God is only in measure to his knowledge of God's love for him.

So much of my retreat was caught up in recognizing all the ways God has blessed me throughout my life, through the gift of life itself, the gift of faith, the gift of family and friends, the gift of this vocation, and on and on. My own realization of God's love for me became a means to love God more deeply and as a result want to live only and completely for Him.

photo by seminarian brother Luke

Anyways, good to be back and now on to preaching practicum. Perhaps, if one of my homilies merits enough kind feedback from my critics (seminarian brothers and priest advisor), I will post it up here. We'll see. :)


Long day ahead...

Today Joe Kim of the Diocese of San Jose and Sam West of the Diocese of Stockton will be ordained to the transitional deaconate. Leonard, Moses, Mike, Dr. Tully, Dr. Ohm, Fr. Rubio, and myself are going to Sam's ordination at 9 am in Stockton's cathedral. Please keep both Joe and Sam in your prayers! Immediately afterward, Leonard, Dr. Ohm and I will be driving to St. Margaret Mary parish in Oakland where his Excellency, Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, will be offering a Solemn Pontifical High Mass at 12:30 pm. When it's all over, I'll probably get back to the seminary at around 4 pm. And then I still have to read Dostoyevsky, Kant, and Plato for the coming week. It's a heavy work load but I try to apply myself diligently for the greater glory of God!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Beware of the noonday devil

Has this ever happened to you: you're busy with some responsibility for school or work, or you are trying to pray, when something suddenly catches your attention. You look out the window to see how the weather is. Or you sign on to Facebook to see if you've gotten any new comments. Or you decide you need a little music and spend ten to fifteen minutes on which CD you want? None of these things are sinful in themselves, but taken all together, they get in the way of what you're supposed to be doing. That is the noonday devil trying to trip you up, so be vigilant.

Five of our seminarian brothers are on their pastoral year this year: Michael Ritter, Eric Flores, Jhay Galeon, Brian Soliven, and Guillermo Ramirez. During the pastoral year the seminarian lives and works in a parish somewhere in the diocese. I would tell you more about the details but it depends on whatever sort of work the pastor would like you to and on the seminarian's initiative. It would be nice if one of our five brothers were to write a blog entry about it, wink wink, nudge nudge, hint hint :)

Tonight the seminarians of St. Patrick's will be attending the second annual gala at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in San Francisco. This year it is being held in honor of the Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco, William Justice. As an aside, I think that's one of the coolest names ever - Bill Justice! The gala will include a reception, formal dinner, silent and live auctions, and it's a chance for us to meet all of the friends and benefactors of St. Patrick's. So pray for them and for us!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Warm Welcome to 5 New Seminarians

I'm still on retreat but here is some good news. We recently held our annual seminarian retreat to start off a new academic year and with that we welcomed 5 new seminarians into our Diocese. Brothers, welcome to the Diocese!

Arnold Parungao
Ronald Torres
Clayton Baumgartner
Ruben Arocan
Steven Iway

Please keep them in your prayers as they continue in their discernment and formation towards the priesthood.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Off to the Desert

Today I am off with the rest of my class for a 7 day silent retreat. See you in a week.

photo by akahodag

Offer a prayer for all of us if you get a moment.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Incoming Missal

Today the Serra Club of San Francisco is hosting a barbeque for seminarians and their families here at St. Patrick's. I remember last year when my mother came. As I showed her around the grounds she kept saying, "Oh this place is so peaceful. I wish I could live here." I must admit I do enjoy my Saturdays. If I'm ordained a priest, then these will be the last Saturdays I'll ever have to myself again!

Fr. Chuck Kelly, our vocations director, told me something interesting when I met with him a few weeks ago: most diocesan priests are introverts. That surprised me because when most of us think of our own parish priest, we think of him in the narthex or outside on the steps after Mass, greeting and shaking hands with everyone. Our Faith requires us to interact with others, no matter our state in life. Even the Carthusians talk to each other once a week :p For a long time I thought, "The diocesan priesthood is an extrovert's only vocation, and that's definitely not me, so I shouldn't even bother trying."

I told those thoughts to my academic adviser one time and he said, "If the priesthood is only for extroverts, then I've been in the wrong vocation all of my life." In St. Theresa parish in Lake Tahoe, I had a similar conversation with the pastor, Fr. Ron. He told me something that's stuck with me: "The Gospel requires everyone to step outside of themselves." If you're an introvert, like me, that means you will have to open up to others more. Much of any priestly life is simply showing up and being with the people during the most important parts of their lives. But the upside to this is that I'm perfectly happy when I'm alone. No matter who you are, if you desire to be a priest, you have to be comfortable by yourself - alone with the Alone - and with yourself.

That's part of what seminary life is about. We really only come to know ourselves in our dealings with others. When you leave the seminary, whether it is to be ordained a priest or because you discovered the life was not for you after all, you will know your strengths and weaknesses. Above all, pray and trust in God. If He calls you to the priesthood, He already knows all of your weaknesses and chose you anyway. He never chooses any man because of any merits he may possess - whatever gifts we bring to the seminary and the priesthood all come from God after all!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day to Day with the MCs

This is post 2 of 4 on the Missionaries of Charity in Milan.

I recently discovered there are more eyes online than I previously thought. Somehow my first blog entry about the Missionaries of Charity went from someone in Rome to a Missionary of Charity Sister to the Regional Superior to Milan by post, all in a matter of two weeks, so that the sisters, approaching me after prayer one afternoon, said, "Oh brother, you write so well." Haha...I guess I have to love it.

photo by warmnfuzzy

Let me continue with my posts about the Missionaries. I really did fall in love with their lives. Another seminarian here went south to Naples and had the same things to say. He's even going back for Christmas. I thought I would give a few anecdotes of my time there to express a small small bit of what I found enjoyable here.

There are many things to like about the Missionaries. I think one of the main ones though is their brutal honesty. Sometimes they just like to tell it like it is. For example...

One day I was sitting in their chapel for Mass and it was packed because it was the feast of the Assumption. I had a seat in the way back and I am pretty sure I offered this seat to one of the sisters but she declined. So there I was sitting and she was standing by with the music. At some point during the first reading or perhaps the second, she turned to me and said, "Get out of there" and up I jump and she plops down in the chair.

Another day I was cutting a couple roses for the statue of the Blessed Mother in the chapel. One of the sisters had given me strict instructions to get flowers that were barely beginning to bud. But their garden had none. They had closed ones and ones that were well into bloom. So I snipped a stem that had one of each. The sister walked by and said to me, "Brother, if I can be honest, this is horrible."

photo by tscarlisle

Third story. I passed over my evaluation papers for my time here in Milan to the superior and she said, "You have to talk to your people over there because these questions are much too difficult to answer after we have only seen you for one month. Yes, here you are generous and ready to do any work we ask but who knows what happens later."


Oh, I am not complaining. In fact, I find their honesty quite refreshing. Perhaps that is why they work so well. They do not have to waste time getting to the point.

I also experienced a bit of their spirituality. I have already mentioned some of their prayers and I will mention more. But these 2 incidents touched me.

There was a day when I accidentally forgotten to get to Mass in the morning because I lost track of time doing some task. I told one of the sisters that I had missed and thought to myself, well the only other Mass is at 6pm and that is when there is the most work to do. Perhaps I will just not go to Mass today. But sister said, "Well brother, that is when we have a lot of work to do but you know, Mass always comes first. That is the most important. So you will just have to go."

I remember a friend telling me just the opposite thing about a group of sisters in Central America who did not get to daily Mass at all and sometimes not even on Sunday if there was not time. Talk about a difference.

There was another day, one of the first days I was here, that I finished the day completely exhausted. It was hot, humid, and lots of lifting and stairs all in one day. One of the sisters saw me and said, "You know, Mother always said, 'If you are not tired at the end of the day, you have not worked for the Lord.' "

photo by evoo73

But further, just their love for priests and desire for them to be holy, has inspired my own desire to be holy. They are like a spiritual pick-me-up.

All these little stories hopefully give some sense of my days here in Milan. I have learned a lot from the sisters. In some way, I feel like I have been on retreat because I am constantly learning things from the sisters and then reflecting on things I have learned. I have also noticed things, like no mirrors. :)


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Congratulations to our new rector

This morning was the official inauguration of Fr. James McKearney of the Society of St. Sulpice as the new rector of St. Patrick's Seminary and University. The Archbishop of San Francisco George Niederauer presided at the installation and Mass; also present were Fr. Tom Ulshafer, the provincial superior of the Society in the United States, the entire faculty of St. Patrick's who took the oath of fidelity to the Holy Father and the Magisterium along with Fr. McKearney, and Father's parents who brought up the gifts for Mass. We certainly pray to the Blessed Virgin, whose birth we celebrate today, that Fr. McKearney and the faculty may impart to us true wisdom and knowledge of the Faith for the greater glory of God!

This is now my second year at St. Patrick's. I am currently in Pre-Theology II, and it feels like there is more reading to do this semester than the last two combined. I'm taking seminars on Dostoyevsky (one of my favorite authors) and Immanuel Kant, which means I'll be plowing through The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov, and The Critique of Pure Reason. In addition, the longer you are in seminary, the more responsibilities around the house you will take on. I will be a sacristy team leader this semester; Fr. Rubio, our resident liturgist, had all team leaders prepare for the installation. There are four teams altogether, which means mine will be in charge of preparing for daily Mass for one week once a month. I'll also be running for Pre-Theology class representative on the student council. I find I really enjoy teaching the new guys the nuts and bolts of seminary life. It's rather similar to what I do here on the blog actually :)

The Church suppressed the minor orders, but there is still a hierarchy of responsibilities for seminarians. If you start out in Pre-Theology, you'll work as a sacristan until First Theology when you become a lector. After that is acolyte, then the transitional deaconate, and then the big day - priesthood. I only have six years to go now!

Happy to be Home

I keep telling people how happy I am to be home, that is my second home at the North American College. But it was made much more evident to me today. I came down with something overnight. Talk about miserable. We have just started conferences on spiritual life and conversion and I am stuck in my room trying to keep my head on straight.

Yet it has been a simple and easy moment to observe the day more closely. First, my diocesan brother called me up in the morning to ask if I wanted breakfast. By noon, someone else figured out I was missing and brought me pranzo. I met one of our recently ordained deacons on the hall who offered to bring me communion later. And to top it off, the rector dropped by to see how I was doing. News gets around quick at the college I guess.

But a day like this, though miserable as I was in the flesh, gave me a great joy in realizing I am in a seminary with men who are invested in each other. Maybe this is just more evidence of the good state of our seminary. I am not quite sure but I am enjoying it, albeit from my room.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

End of Summer

Well, we all knew it had to come at some point. At 11:30 pm Roman time today, summer will be officially over for me and all the seminarians in my second year class. Time to put away the sandals, shorts, and t-shirts and go back to black and shirts tucked in pants. And I am really sad to see the summer go. There is so much to miss. Especially the shorts!

photo by jurvetson

If you asked me 3 months ago if I would rather go back stateside or go off to China and Milan, I would have said let me go home!!! Perhaps somewhere down deep that desire still exists. But reflecting at this moment, I give thanks for the opportunity to see the Church in China and to experience the life and charism of the Missionaries of Charity. I have learned so much and grown much in my own relationship with Christ and understanding of priesthood.

God really has an amazing way of surprising us. I had really little idea of what this summer would bring. It has been a real opportunity for me to trust his providential care. He is always there, guiding, watching, and moving things towards their ultimate purpose, even if I find myself on a boat on a river in the middle of nowhere northern China.

My last day at the Missionary of Charities house in Milan the superior, Sister Lawrence, pulled out some holy cards with second class relics of Mother and asked me to choose one. The one I picked said this:

"Keep the joy of loving Jesus in your hearts and share this joy with all you meet."

God has an amazing way of meeting us on the road. This is the exact experience I felt I have had throughout my summer. I have found myself falling more in love with God and His Church and desiring to share this love, this joy, this great treasure, with whoever I meet and wherever I am. Life is good. Seminary is good. Priesthood, I have a feeling, will be even better. :)

I sometimes feel like one of those cheezy infomerical guys who is touting the next great product that will solve all your problems, whether it be fitness or in the kitchen, when I tell people that my time in the seminary has been the best time of my life. I am not telling you that you have to get into the seminary, I am just telling you how good it is. It's the truth.

And if you are called to the priesthood, perhaps after watching the vocation video I just posted, realize what Jesus has already said, "For my yolk is easy and my burden is light." To follow the way the Lord is calling you, to discover your true self by listening to the great plan God has in store for you, will be the easy way. Not easy in the sense of no suffering, no sacrifice, and no tears. But rather easy in the sense that you will have a confidence that you are fulfilling the deepest core of your being by following the will of your Creator who from all eternity has called you to a marvelous vocation, to be a rising light in heaven that never fades.

Now back to the books.


New Vocation Video

I just stole this from the American Papist but I thought it was worth it to re-post here.

It gave me a couple shivers.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Defining Priesthood After China

This is part 4 of my Chinese posts. This is also the last one. :)

My 7 weeks in China have given me a greater sense of what it means to be a priest.

First, to be a priest, is to take what you have been given and put it to use as best as you can. Some of the priests in Maryknoll run huge organizations that involve large amounts of revenue, huge staffs, and administration that would make your head roll. Others do research, study documents, translate, and spread information. Each finds a place where he can flourish. I do not believe I have met one Maryknoll priest that reminds me of another. They are all just very unique. But I think ultimately when we look at who we want as a priest, we want someone who is unique. We do not want a cookie cutter type priest but one who is creatively his own.

Second, to be a priest is to be a shepherd. But I have gotten a new version of what it means to be shepherd by observing a priest who really gets down at the level of the people and works with them where they are at. He delves not simply into spiritual life and conversion but academics, family, and food. He is wherever he needs to be to be shepherd. He knows what is going on in the lives of his sheep and he shares every part of his life with them. He eats with them, studies with them, spends time with them, and lives his life directed towards them. He provides what is needed. Obviously how he shares his life with his people will be different depending on his ministry.