Vocations View: Experiencing Priestly Life Over the Summer

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by Kelby Tingle, Seminarian for the Diocese of Shreveport

As I begin my third year of seminary formation, it is a great blessing to have had a summer assignment that allowed me to come to a greater understanding of the priesthood and the Diocese of Shreveport. While the majority of my year is spent at the seminary studying philosophy, the summer is a great opportunity for me to experience the liveliness of a church parish. This past summer I was assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Mansfield and St. Anne Church in Stonewall for the month of June before moving to St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport with Fr. Matthew Long in July. While these two months went by very fast, the memories and knowledge taken from them will be lasting.

This summer was one of my first experiences living at a church and it allowed me to see the daily life of a priest within a parish. In the morning, I got to do what I have loved doing for years: altar serving. It was great to serve at Mass every day and partake in the liturgy, as well as serve at baptisms and funerals. It was also a great privilege to serve at Fr. Fidel’s and Deacon Duane’s ordinations. Seeing Fr. Fidel at St. Joseph as a newly ordained priest gave me a great sense of happiness and excitement for the future. In each of these moments, I saw the priest as a spiritual father.

During the week, I spent some time working in the church office at St. Joseph in Shreveport, and this reminded me of how much happens behind the scenes. In addition to many meetings, there were many tasks to do such as preparing the Sunday bulletin, mailing invitations to  events, updating the Sacramental records, updating Virtus accounts and organizing Mass intentions.

Throughout the summer, I observed how the Church continuously welcomes the faithful to encounter and learn more about their faith through all stages of their lives. I participated in Vacation Bible School at three different churches and witnessed the catechesis of our youth in the diocese.

In July we had our annual diocesan vocations camp, Mission Possible, that provided an opportunity for teenagers to learn more about vocations and how to develop their spiritual lives. On Wednesday nights at St. Joseph in Shreveport, I attended the Young Adult Group and enjoyed hearing their discussions and thoughts on religious topics. Seeing the ways in which the Church welcomes its people to learn more about their faith reminded me of what a blessing it is for a priest to be so involved with the people of his parish throughout their lives.

I also had the opportunity to visit many different churches in the Diocese of Shreveport over the summer. In particular, I visited the Eastern Deanery and all of the churches in Monroe. I was amazed at the beauty of many of these churches. In addition, I had the privilege of seeing most of the churches in the Southern Deanery and many of the Western deanery, as well. This opportunity inspired me because it not only allowed me to see the beautiful churches that we are blessed with in the Diocese of Shreveport, but it also gave me a chance to meet some of the people that I will hopefully serve as a priest one day.

My experiences this summer were very fruitful and inspiring. It is with great joy and zeal that I return to the seminary to begin another year of discerning the priesthood at St. Ben’s in south Louisiana.

I ask that you continue to pray for the current seminarians of the Diocese of Shreveport and for an increase in vocations to the priesthood.

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