Bishop visits 12 seminarians at the Pontifical College of the Josephinum

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Each spring, it is the custom of Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde to visit the seminaries responsible for the priestly formation of diocesan seminarians. Bishop Loverde finished up this year's seminary visits with a trip to the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, home to 12 men in different stages of priestly formation, two of whom will be ordained into the diaconate this June.

"I enjoy being with them. I get to know them in a more full way," said Bishop Loverde. "I am able to talk with them about their progress, encourage them and pray with them, but also to have some social time with them. It is a good moment for all of us."

After the bishop arrived April 5, he held individual meetings with the men who also met with Vocations Director Father Joel D. Jaffe to discuss their formation.

"It is a wonderful thing that Bishop Loverde takes the time to visit the men studying for the Arlington Diocese," said Father Jaffe. "He really knows them and they have a chance to really get to know him. This is very beneficial to their formation as priests."

 The Josephinum is one of the few seminaries that have a full college program in addition to programs in theology and pre-theology. This enables men who enter the seminary out of high school or transfer from college to earn a bachelor's degree with areas of concentration in philosophy or humanities. The diocese has more men in formation at the Josephinum than any other seminary.

"Here, there is a good spirit among the men. It has a very fine faculty, and I think that the whole program of formation here serves us well," said Bishop Loverde. "They are certainly formed according to the four basic pillars of priestly formation outlined first of all by St. John Paul II, but also very much amplified by their own priestly formation program that we bishops authorize."

Seminarian Jordan Willard said the bishop's visit was a great honor and gift to him and fellow seminarians.

"He has a way of cherishing each and every one of us. On several occasions he has told me 'I don't want you to be Joe Schmo. If God wanted you to be Joe Schmo he would have made you Joe Schmo,'" said Willard.

Bishop Loverde was able to socialize with the seminarians off campus on Wednesday for dinner, which Willard described as a special privilege.

"It was like sitting down together with family," said Willard. "It did not feel overly formal. There was serious talk, but also laughing, love and joy we shared in the moment."

Bishop Loverde joined the entire Josephinum community Thursday morning to celebrate Mass before classes. During his homily, he referenced Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken," saying that instead of the seminarians having a road before them, they actually face the person of Jesus Christ, and it is He who makes all the difference.

The bishop enjoyed the prayerful simplicity of that early morning Mass with the community.

"It was really prayerful … and it was a good moment of spirituality. It was encouraging and uplifting for me," he said.

The trip came to a close Friday with Mass in the St. Rose of Lima Chapel with the seminarians.

"It is a beautiful way to conclude his visitation, celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass together as a diocese," said Father Jaffe. "They may be (an eight- hour drive) from the diocese, but on Friday the bishop brought the whole diocese to them."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016