After finishing my first year of theology school at Mundelein Seminary, I was assigned to work for the summer at the Diocese of Davenport’s chancery maintenance department in Davenport. I am happy that I was able to stay with my family in Moline, Ill., just across the Mississippi River.
I mowed a lot of lawns around the property and got a lot of sun this summer. I learned a lot from this simple exeprience in that it’s amazing what can be done when each person does their part, no matter how small. On rainy days, I would help the finance office and insert data for the audit. Also, I feel I have a small part in the Annual Diocesan Appeal because I helped Laurie Hoefling and Sister Laura Goedken, OP, stuff boxes and bags with materials. At lunch time, I would get to eat and talk with Bishop Martin Amos several times a week. On Wednesdays, I would eat lunch with the Sisters of Humility and meet with Sister Marilyn Reyes, CHM. The best part of my job this summer was meeting so many wonderful people who adopted me as one of their own. I helped move out and say goodbye to my old vocations director, Father Marty Goetz. I also said hello to the new vocations director, Father Thom Hennen, on the same day, Aug. 1.
I served a couple of memorable Masses this summer. The first was an anniversary Mass for the Sisters of Humility. I was asked by Sr. Marilyn to come. I was so honored to serve, but even more honored when introducing my mother to the Sisters of Humility. The Sisters hugged her and treated her like no one had before. As a seminarian, I get a lot of credit, but my mother was very instumental in my vocation and enjoyed when the Sisters respected her like they did, especially because she didn’t speak English.
Later that summer during a funeral Mass I felt a very powerful moment in, God willing, my future ministry. The woman, who had died at the age of about 50, would drive me to Mass on Sundays when I was little. Her husband had never been baptized and she prayed throughout her life for his conversion. The husband asked to be baptized and have his first confession before Mass. He received his first Communion at his wife’s funeral. I had tears in my eyes from this very powerful moment. The woman had received her wish.
At the end of the summer, I served at Deacon Anastacio Ponce’s ordination Mass in Ottumwa. For the first time, I got to see a friend become a deacon. I had served at other ordinations, but really didn’t know the guys well. I knew Anastacio before I even entered the seminary, as he and seminarian Kevin Anstey and former seminarian Oswaldo Ojeda came to my house the night before the ordinations of Fathers Joseph Sia and Hai Dinh in 2008. I became good friends with all of them and was filled with joy for Deacon Anastacio’s ordination. I also got to meet his parents and introduce my mother to his mother.
I’m back at Mundelein Seminary now. Classes started on Labor Day and I’m nervous, as many say this is the hardest trimester academically. I’m taking Special Morals I, Refomation and Catholic Refomation History, Ecclesiology, Intro to Sacraments and Healing and Vocation, and Intro to Pastoral Care and Couseling. Please keep me in prayer and God bless you.