Vocations View: Seminarian Holds Special Devotion to Saint John Berchmans, Patron of Altar Servers

by Kelby Tingle, Seminarian

Seminarian Kelby Tingle and Fr. Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans at the tomb of St. John Berchmans in Rome.

Before entering seminary, I spent four years as an altar server at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, the patron of altar servers. What I experienced and learned there has been invaluable to my discernment to the priesthood, and I am most grateful. Of these experiences, many involve our Cathedral’s patron, St. John Berchmans. His story is one of love and holiness, obedience and prayer. His desire to so deeply love God was evident to all who got even a glimpse of him. During his life, many people had a deep admiration and respect for the saintly youth who answered God’s call to serve Him as a priest. Even today, he continues to inspire people to strive for holiness and to find a relationship with God. Saint John continues to be, for me, an inspiration and role model.

I remember with fondness our annual week-long altar server leadership camps that taught us more about reverently serving at the altar of God. Time was always devoted to teaching the younger servers about the life of St. John Berchmans because not only is he our Cathedral patron, but he is the patron of altar servers as well! To know how readily and faithfully our patron served at the altar inspired us all to worship God well as we serve at His altar. Indeed, before every Mass at the Cathedral, the altar servers ask St. John Berchmans to intercede for them as they prepare to serve at God’s altar. To this day, I still ask him to intercede for me when I serve at the altar and as I study for the priesthood. I pray that like him, I may have a beautiful relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary, a strong love for the Eucharist and be conscientious concerning the ordinary things of life.
When I think of St. John Berchmans, I think of a young man, close to my age, who selflessly loved God and so longed to do all things for the great glory of God.

During the summer of 2015, while on a pilgrimage to Rome, I prayed at the tomb of St. John Berchmans and visited the room where he lived during his formation. How overwhelming and spiritually rewarding this was for me! In his room, I remember thinking that this is where my role model, who I ask to intercede for me quite often, actually lived. I will cherish the opportunity to pray before his tomb, stand in his room, and to serve in the chapel where he professed his first vows.

In a few days, we will have the most joyful opportunity to welcome to our diocese the heart of St. John Berchmans, the very heart that loved and desired God so fully. How awesome and providential that the heart arrives at the Cathedral on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, whom he so loved! I pray that by seeing and venerating this most holy saint’s heart, our own hearts will be greatly inspired and continue to grow in love for God and His Church.

Interested in a vocation to the priesthood or religious life? Contact Fr. Matthew Long, Director of Vocations, 318-868-4441, or mlong@dioshpt.org.

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