Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”. The month of May ushers in a time of transition for the Mercedarian students in Philadelphia.
The month begins with the pressure of final exams at St Charles Borromeo Seminary and other Colleges the Friars attend. Studies can be challenging as the seminarians learn the classics such as Latin, Greek, and philosophy. As they progress in their academic formation, the friars tackle such areas as Church History, Systematic Theology, Pastoral Theology, and Sacred Scripture. Br. Dominic, a non-clerical student, completed his 3 year at Cabrini College in pursuit of a Bachelors in Secondary Education (English). Despite the rigors of final exams the friars maintain the house schedule, which includes communal prayer and meals. The students support each other in their studies and pray as a community that the Holy Spirit grant everyone the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
This year the vicariate was blessed to have two friars complete their theological studies at St Charles Borromeo Seminary. Br. James Chia, O. de M. and Br. David Spencer, O. de M. began at Overbrook several years ago in the Pre-Theology program. After many years of study, prayer, and hard work they have completed their time of academic formation. On May 20th, St Charles Borromeo Seminary held its Concourses at Saint Martin’s Chapel. Br David received his Masters of Arts in Pastoral Theology. The special emphasis of his Master’s thesis was on the Liturgy and Redemption.
Soon after their studies concluded the student fulfilled their constitutional obligation by going on a weeklong retreat. The retreat master was Fr. Eugene Costa, O. de M. Fr Eugene has been the Order Novice Master for over 30 years! He has a wealth of knowledge and a great love for the Consecrated Life. Fr Eugene gave the students several conferences on Blessed John Paul II’s contribution to the theology of consecrated life. Each evening, the friars had exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. There was much time for prayer and reflection on consecration that each of them share as Mercedarians.
Now having been renewed spiritually, the simply professed prepare themselves for a busy summer. They will be getting an opportunity to visit their families for some rest and relaxation. Then, many will head to different Mercedarian parishes and houses to give assistance and get apostolic experience. The summer apostolic experience offers the students a chance to get to know the solemnly professed friars that make up the vicariate of the United States. They, also, experience the redemptive apostolates that the Order is involved in.
Truly, as the book of Ecclesiastes says, “there is a time for everything…” For students in formation with the Mercedarians, summer offers a time to labor, a time to pray, and a time to rest. But, all time belongs to God and is given to us as a gift. May this summer’s experiences lead those in formation to see the presence of God in all each experience, each person, and each moment!