By Isaac Doucettte
Over the summer, I have been in Omaha with fellow Diocese of Davenport seminarians Dominic Nguyen, Grant Colborn and Cameron Costello on Creighton University’s campus. We have been participating in the Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF) for seminarians. It is a nine-week program to enter into a deeper relationship with God. Many priests who have completed the program say it was the most impactful summer assignment they had. Some even say that if it weren’t for IPF they would not be a priest.
We had an eight-day silent retreat early in the summer to grow in our relationship with God. The silence washed over us and allowed us to hear God’s voice in a clearer way. It allowed us to relate to God what was on our heart and receive what God had to say.
My awareness of receiving God’s love makes a big impact on my life. Sometimes it can seem difficult to receive God with all the noise in the world. I’ve found that silence, even for just a few minutes, helps with this. It allows me to contemplate God. Mary is the model for receptivity and reminds me that it is possible and not as difficult as I think. That gives me the confidence to respond with love toward others.
The silent retreat set the tone for the rest of the summer. We’ve been building on our relationship with God and getting to know other seminarians from throughout the country. We enjoyed the company of friends and family over the Fourth of July holiday, and have been spending time with people in our ministry at a nursing home or hospital.
One moving example for me of receiving God’s love through other people happened during a visit with some of my friends in Danbury, Iowa. I knew them through my involvement in the Knights of Columbus but had not visited their home because it was on the opposite end of the state. I drove up Interstate 29 past some flooded fields and into an ocean of gently waving and quickly growing corn and soybeans. I saw my friends, their two daughters and two grandchildren.
The youngest was a 1-year-old girl who was a joy to be around. Towards the end of the day she approached me with a huge smile on her face and gave me an empty plastic bottle. It was the only thing she had, but she gave it to me.
This revealed for me a small taste of God’s love and the importance of having a relationship with God. When God is the wellspring we go to every day, we are better able to see God working in our lives. Participating in the Mass and in prayer help me to see that relationship more clearly. As a result, what I choose to do with my life flows from that relationship. I can see Christ in others and be Christ for others.
(Isaac Doucette is a seminarian for the Diocese of Davenport studying at the University of St. Mary of the Lake — Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill.)