Diocese of Orlando seminarians gathered together for prayer, renewal, and fraternity August 3-5 at San Pedro Center in Winter Park. The thirty seminarians, in various stages of their formation, who study at different seminaries, welcomed new seminarians and reconnected with old friends before their return to school.
Father Jorge Torres, the Diocese’s new Vocation’s Director, said, “One of the gifts that God gives us are our relationships. This is an opportunity to support one another, take care of ourselves and our neighbor, and return to our true calling.” Relating the importance of the annual meeting, Father Torres said, “It’s like a family who goes on vacation. Everyone comes back refreshed and renewed, saying ‘we need to do this more often’.”
The men attended daily celebration of Mass, listened to inspirational speakers, shared meals, and enjoyed some leisure time. On Thursday, Father Torres cautioned those who were prepared to go canoeing to watch out for a certain canal. “I don’t know why so many people tip over in that area,” he said laughingly, explaining that many seminarians have come back wet after a leisurely trip around the lake.
Edwin Cardona, a seminarian in his senior year at St. John Vianney Seminary in Miami, said, “It is great to meet the new men who are answering the call. We get to see the growth in each other. It’s a beautiful journey.” Cardona spent his summer at St. Paul Parish in Leesburg on pastoral assignment and is one of three seminarians who come from St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Kissimmee.
“The convocation prepares us, on fire, to return to the seminary,” said Ivan Olmo. He attends Blessed John XXIII Seminary in Weston Massachusetts, a unique national seminary particular to men who receive or respond to the call to the priesthood later in life. Upon his ordination in Orlando, Ivan will serve as a priest in the Diocese. “This is a coming home for me,” said Olmo. “The convocation is special for me, being so far away. It gives me the opportunity to come back with my brothers, to bond with the common purpose of being in service to our Lord and God.”
At this year’s convocation, on the Feast day of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, the men were treated to a special mass concelebrated by Bishop John Noonan and Bishop Emeritus Norbert Dorsey.
“It’s a time for them to listen and pray together, as they prepare to minister to the people of God,” says Bishop John Noonan of the convocation. Continuing, he said, “It’s a time to remind them who they are and who they will be in the future.”
Article by Jennifer Powers, Florida Catholic correspondent
The top row middle, young man with beard is Peter, who just spent the summer months at our Parish of St. Mary of the Lakes. We’re praying for all seminarians!