More than 30 seminarians from Mount St. Mary Seminary in
Emmitsburg arrived at George Mason University in Fairfax Oct. 10 for a three-day
“Evangelization Mission Trip.” The first mission trip was about seven years ago
at George Mason, and since then seminarians have traveled to other universities
throughout the United States to evangelize through conversation.
“That’s what it’s all about, meeting Christ without imposing but
proposing,” said Msgr. Andrew R. Baker, rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.
“Our Lord sent the disciples two by two. As a chaplain and to be able to witness the same thing is proof that the Gospels has never ended."
The mission trip is now a mandatory part of Mount St. Mary seminary
formation because, as Msgr. Baker pointed out, it provides “priestly training
and understanding (of) the evangelization.”
Seminarians are grouped in pairs of two, typically a newbie with
“The minimum goal is to be a smiling face — (the ultimate) goal
is to love them,” said Father Thomas Cavanaugh, parochial vicar at St. Theresa
Church in Ashburn and participant of the first Evangelization Mission Trip.
In the evening, Campus Chaplain Father James Searby led a
Eucharistic procession, displaying the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance,
through the campus and then closed the mission trip with benediction and a
sermon reflecting on the seminarians’ time on campus and the future of their
Though the presence of the seminarians on campus is brief, the
hope it that the students they encounter will follow up with the Fellowship of
Catholic University Students (FOCUS) or the campus’ Catholic Ministry with
questions that the seminarians had planted, said Msgr. Baker.
At the end of each day, seminarians gathered for a recap to share
stories, strategize logistics and sharpen skills — asking themselves, “What can
I communicate to (the students) that would be helpful?” Each seminarian discovers
his own method of communicating.
On the last morning of the mission trip, seminarians and priests
gathered for adoration at the St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel.
“You want to appeal to their logic,” said Jim Bors, of the
Baltimore Archdiocese, who tag-teamed with first-timer Jonathan Vall of the Diocese
of Colorado Springs.
“Our Lord sent the disciples two by two. As a chaplain and to be
able to witness the same thing is proof that the Gospels has never ended,” said
Bors said that quoting scripture is not effective because many
students don’t have a Christian background or have never heard of Jesus. The seminarians
questioned students to learn who they are. Sometimes their questions prompt
students to “figure out” who Christ is.
In one case at West Virginia University, Bors said he met a young
atheist who was unfamiliar with Christ. They spoke for almost an hour and at
the end, the student prayed, “God, if you exist, let me know you.”