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Ryan Bilodeau Catholic Seminarian Diocese Of Providence
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My journey towards seminary, like that of my brother seminarians, is a unique one. My high school years were spent on the straight and narrow path, attending Mount Saint Charles Academy and dedicating my extracurricular time to the Catholic Youth Organization Center. This path began to diverge, however, with the advent of my involvement in politics while an undergrad student at The University of Rhode Island. With one foot in the classroom and the other working for campaigns, consulting firms and interest groups, the path on which I traveled brought me throughout Rhode Island and around the country, all the while away from God.
Thankfully God's fervent grace threw a fork in the road. It was at fancy cocktail parties at Bellevue Avenue mansions or conventions in Washington, D.C. hotels that I heard in the silence of my heart Christ asking me the same question He once asked two disciples: "What are you looking for?" Through prayer and with the help of the priests at Our Lady of Providence, I was able to answer that question in the form of an application to enter the seminary.
What a great gift it was to enter seminary during the Year for Priests. As I witnessed priests in a special way "strive for spiritual perfection," I was reminded that this year-long period of strengthening and renewal is ultimately a time not for priests but for all those whom they serve. In this realization I am reminded of and comforted by the life that lay ahead of me following ordination.
In the mean time, seminary life allows for great growth and fellowship. Our program, built on the four pillars of spiritual, human, pastoral and intellectual formation, immerses us in our faith. Depending on the day, my average schedule includes prayer, study, apostolic work, and a healthy dose of fun with my brother Seminarians. In seminary there is a great sense of community and fraternity. We have constant support in the form of spiritual directors, formation advisers and professors, and are engaged constantly by the Church's many facets.
The pearl that is seminary life, however, does not come without great price. The days can be long and the program intense. To prepare a man to the priesthood, though, is to spend years chiseling away at and fitting him for the armor of God. Our modern times and its many challenges require nothing less; The Church needs real men of God. If St. John Vianney was right in famously saying that "The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus," then the office of the priesthood requires that one traces its every beat.
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