Reflection on Minor Seminary

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by Seminarian Kelby Tingle

Four years ago I graduated from Loyola College Prep in Shreveport and, feeling a call to discern a vocation to the priesthood, I made the prayerful decision to enter seminary formation. I have studied at St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, LA, which the seminarians fondly refer to as “St. Ben’s.” With amazement at how fast time goes by and gratitude for the experiences that God blessed me with, I reflect on my formation in minor seminary as a graduate.
The structured life of the seminary, which includes time for personal prayer as well as communal prayer, allowed me to grow in a more personal and dedicated relationship with God and His Son. As a seminary community, we gathered three times a day in our chapel for morning prayer, evening prayer and night prayer with Mass after morning prayer. I was often impacted by hearing the voices of more than 100 seminarians who had the same intention as me: to grow in discipleship.

In my first year of seminary, my spiritual director emphasized the importance of spending an hour in silent prayer before the Eucharist. While it was at times difficult for me to spend an hour in silent prayer, I realized the importance of my daily conversations with the Lord. It is through spending time asking Him questions and reflecting on my relationship with Him that I have come to understand and cherish more fully the calling He has given me. Spiritual formation is the foundation of all relationships, events and activities of the seminary.

I often consider myself blessed to have been integrated into a community as vibrant as that of St. Ben’s. Throughout my four years of formation, I have formed several remarkable friendships with seminarians from dioceses across the deep South. Throughout the course of the year, there are many times the seminarians gather to spend time with other seminaries. An event at the seminary that was always awaited with great anticipation was the annual Bonfire Flag Football game against Notre Dame Seminary. Apart from the special events the seminary hosts, it was amazing to form relationships with others by walking around the beautiful grounds of the seminary, discussing philosophy or simply sharing stories. I am exceedingly grateful for the relationships that, in many ways, have led me to a closer relationship with Christ.

Because I entered the seminary immediately after completing high school, I attained a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and the Liberal Arts. While I remember questioning the relevance of studying philosophy, I have realized the importance of it and grown in admiration for the curriculum. Studying the liberal arts and philosophy has offered me the opportunity for deeper critical thinking. I came to the realization that mankind, including myself, is a people who are always striving to know and understand the truth more fully. Man has a longing to discover who he is and how he relates to the world and to the Divine Creator. In this way, the curriculum has not solely had an intellectual impact on my priestly formation, but it has impacted my prayer life.

When reflecting on my experiences at St. Ben’s, several events that the seminary hosts come to mind. It is through experiencing these events that a love for service has been fostered within me. In the spring semester, the seminary welcomes over 1,000 youth for the Abbey Youth Festival. The seminary also hosts discernment weekends where more than 100 young men visit to see the life of the seminary and discern God’s will in their  own lives. As a part of the formation program, every senior travels to Guatemala for mission immersion. While these events differ in some ways, they all invite me, as an aspiring priest, to give of myself and continuously invite others to live with Christ.

I will remember St. Joseph Seminary College with great fondness and believe that it has thoroughly prepared me to begin the major seminary in the fall.
In July, I will begin attending the Pontifical North American College and studying at the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. I greatly look forward to studying Theology, as well as being fully immersed in the Roman culture. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and am excited for the experiences God will bless me with. I trust that these experiences will bring me closer to God and make me a more effective priest for the people of the Diocese of Shreveport.

For all of those who have offered prayers and support to me throughout my journey in minor seminary, I sincerely thank you. I ask for your continued prayers for me as I continue my discernment and formation.

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