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A mother’s love

As a young man setting foot on the campus of Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., for the first time in 2006, fresh out of high school, I had aspirations of one day making the journey across campus to the seminary to study for the priesthood. At the time, I tailored my classes to be a precursor for seminary studies, including philosophy. As many have experienced, schooling became too expensive and I withdrew from the university on “Mary’s Mountain.”

tony bennett

Tony Bennett prepares for Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria during his assignment there this summer. ALEX SOLSMA | COURTESY


At that time in my life, my prayer had been to one day be a priest and study at the Mount. This was a prayer I often prayed and had entrusted to Our Lady’s intercession. Yet, as happens with many things in life, not on my time but rather on God’s providential time table would this come to happen. All the in-between years of working in different careers and various service-oriented volunteer opportunities, the gentle protection of Mary’s mantle and her interceding for me continued without my really being aware of its impact on my life.

After a 10-year hiatus from seriously praying about the priesthood, I began again to consider it as the plan God had for my life. I soon was accepted as a seminarian for Arlington, and entered seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, which is named for St. Joseph. During my two years there, I grew in a life of prayer that is the wellspring of priestly life after Christ’s own heart. I learned how to model my life after St. Joseph in vigilance, silence and dutiful care of souls.

Upon returning to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary to finish philosophy studies, I could not help but realize how the prayer I had made all those years ago was answered. The truly beautiful thing about this journey is the way in which it happened. The area surrounding Emmitsburg is known as the “Valley of St. Joseph,” and the path in which I had taken to study at the Mount was through those first years of seminary at the Josephinum. The motto of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary is “Ascendite in montem,” Latin for “Go up to the mountain.” I truly see now that the valley of St. Joseph had prepared me to ascend “Mary’s Mountain.”

Today, as we seminarians are well into our summer assignments at parishes around the diocese, I am again graced to be placed under our Blessed Mother’s care at the Basilica of St. Mary in Old Town Alexandria. But this time I am much more aware of God’s providence and am assuredly more perceptive in noticing Mary’s love for her son as I “behold my Mother.”

Tony Bennett, who is from St. Agnes Church in Arlington, just completed his second year of pre-theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. This summer he is assigned to the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019