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Paulist seminarian Tom Gibbons reflects on his formation experience and his life as a seminarian right now. Along the way, some questions will be will be answered, and a lot more will come up.

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August 17th, 2011

Back to Seminary

 
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As my summer draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on my feelings of starting a new year of seminary.

In order to answer the question, “Am I looking forward to going back to seminary?” it’s probably best to relay a conversation that I recently had with one of the Paulist priests. It was a simple conversation that happened a few weeks ago; I bumped into this Paulist with whom I am friends in DC while I was staying in Boston for the summer. He asked me if I was looking forward to my upcoming ordination. I replied that I was. Very much so. Because then I wouldn’t have to be in seminary any more.

My answer was not that I would finally get to serve the people. My answer was not that I could shine the love of God outward into a darkened world. It was that I would not have to be in seminary any more.

I know, I know. On some level I am supposed to say what a grace-filled time this is, what a blessing it is for me to have the opportunity to grow as a person, that all of God’s gifts are good, blah, blah, blah. And yes, there is indeed truth in the descriptions that fall under the category of “nicety,” but after five years of poking, prodding, and stretching, I’m getting a little tired. And if Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years has taught us anything, it’s that after a while, growing gets kind of old.

Priestly formation can often feel like 10 different people are grabbing 10 different fingers and pulling in different directions, with each one shouting, “Grow spiritually! Grow intellectually! Be open to relationships! Watch your boundaries! Exercise more! Work harder! Take time out! Imagine swirled peas!” Constantly switching gears to all of the different areas you are expected to grow in, legitimate and illegitimate, gets exhausting after a while. You just get tired of reading the car manual and just want to take the car out for a spin already.

So, no, I’m not looking forward to going back to seminary.

Of course, there is an ounce of guilt than comes along with this realization. Some might say that I wouldn’t truly be Catholic if there wasn’t. And I am of course aware of the growth in most of this, that on some level seminary is a lot like exercise, that it is something I may hate doing but will appreciate having done.

That being said, when I told the Paulist the specific reason that I was looking forward to getting ordained, he gave me a quick response.

“Good answer.”

 
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The Author : Fr. Tom Gibbons
Since 2009, Tom Gibbons, CSP, has shared insights on faith, pop culture, and seminary life in the Kicking and Screaming blog here at Busted Halo. On May 19, 2012, Tom was ordained a Paulist priest at St. Paul the Apostle Church in New York City. He will begin serving St. Peter's Catholic Church in Toronto, Canada beginning in July 2012.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • mag

    As a ‘never going to get the opportunity’ I would say enjoy the experience and know it is all for the service of the Kingdom.

  • Steve Petroff

    As a hopeful and “soon to be” Paulist (one week and counting) I find a strange reassurance and hope in your answer. One day at a time? : )

  • CK Rutledge

    Welcome to the real world! ;-) Your response is why we love the Paulists so much.

  • john collins

    as a brother Paulist, cant wait until YOU start driving that car! The road is never going to be the same.

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