You can help to form our future priests

Amy Bryer Brumley

Our seminarians are visiting parishes in November to share their unique calling to serve and to ask for your prayerful support.

God spoke to some of them at an early age and others were well into their adulthood, but they each heard the Lord’s call to the priesthood.

Michael Pitio said he remembers he was only 6 years old when he first heard Jesus speak to him. Now, at 22, he is studying in Denver to become a priest. 

“The will of God has me in the right place today,” Pitio said.

The Archdiocese of Denver is uniquely blessed to have two seminaries that help answer God’s call to serve His Church. St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary offer two distinct paths to the priesthood with a shared goal of strengthening the future of the Catholic Church.

It can take seven to 10 years to be a Catholic priest. Right now, 110 seminarians are studying what it means to hand your life over to God’s will and serve His Church.  

St. John Vianney Theological Seminary began in 1999 as a diocesan seminary rooted in the firm dedication to prayer. Since then, the seminary has been making disciples of men called to proclaim Jesus Christ with ordinations totaling 139.

Each candidate to the seminary must be sponsored by his Bishop or Religious Superior before entering St. John Vianney. While attending the seminary, each man is immersed in the Four Dimensions of Formation — spiritual, human, intellectual, and pastoral — which prepares them for the lifelong demands of the priesthood. 

Formation and education for seminarians ranges from between seven to 10 years. Right now, 110 seminarians at St. John Vianney and Redemptoris Mater seminaries are studying what it means to hand your life over to God’s will and serve His Church.  

Amidst their studies, the seminarians perform works of mercy by visiting hospital patients, engaging in prison ministry, comforting the elderly, befriending the homeless, working in schools, or assisting in parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Denver.

Redemptoris Mater was founded in 1996 to form diocesan and missionary priests willing to serve the universal Church where they are needed. Redemptoris Mater seminarians share academics with St. John Vianney seminarians, but their vocational formation is based on the Neocatechumenal Way which offers them an itinerary of formation into an adult faith in a concrete Christian community inserted in a particular local parish. 

Redemptoris Mater welcomes seminarians from 12 different countries of origin to the Archdiocese of Denver. Upon ordination, the Archbishop may send the Neocatechumenal priests to local parishes or to a missionary assignment.

In the expected 45 to 50 years of priesthood, a priest will touch so many lives.  We need to invest in that future, said Father Daniel Leonard, rector of St. John Vianney. That is why priest formation is such an important investment, because it is an investment in the future of our Church, Father Leonard said.

 “They are ordained, not for themselves, but for their flock,” Father Leonard said. “It is the heart of a good shepherd who loves his flock.”

Seminarian Timothy Skoch went to the University of Kansas and in his sophomore year he was introduced to St. Philip Neri, who’s the patron saint of joy. That’s when he started to become interested in the priesthood and what a priest’s life looks like.

By his senior year, Skoch was listening to God’s voice in his life. The desire to follow Christ grew and he gained the courage to apply to the seminary.

They are ordained, not for themselves, but for their flock. It is the heart of a good shepherd who loves his flock.”

Father Daniel Leonard

In one of his classes at the seminary, the instructor asked, “how is modern man going to encounter the Lord?”

“I truly believe that one way that will happen is through the Catholic priesthood and good men saying yes to that call that Jesus is inviting them into,” Timothy said.

Jesús Martinez Vargas remembers vividly when he was called.

“I remember exactly when the Lord spoke to me. I was about 23 or 24 years old at mass and watching the priest celebrate the Eucharist during the consecration, and I was overwhelmed with a desire to be doing what he was doing,” Vargas said. 

The 28-year-old seminarian is grateful to donors who help make his dream to become a priest possible. Priest formation is costly to cover tuition, books, and laptops, but it is an investment in the future of our Church.

“I’m so grateful to the donors who allow me to follow my desire,” Vargas said. “Without them, there is no seminary to form good priests.”

You can learn more about your future priests and support them on their journey at archden.org/futurepriests.

COMING UP: Preparing your Home and Heart for the Advent Season

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The Advent season is a time of preparation for our hearts and minds for the Lord’s birth on Christmas.  It extends over the four Sundays before Christmas.  Try some of these Ideas to celebrate Advent in your home by decorating, cooking, singing, and reading your way to Christmas. Some of the best ideas are the simplest.

Special thanks to Patty Lunder for putting this together!

Advent Crafts

Handprint Advent Wreath for Children 
Bring the meaning of Advent into your home by having your kids make this fun and easy Advent wreath.

Materials
Pink and purple construction paper
– Yellow tissue or construction paper (to make a flame)
– One piece of red construction paper cut into 15 small circles
– Scissors
– Glue
– Two colors of green construction paper
– One paper plate
– 2 empty paper towel tubes

1. Take the two shades of green construction paper and cut out several of your child’s (Children’s) handprints. Glue the handprints to the rim of a paper plate with the center cut out.

2. Roll one of the paper towels tubes in purple construction paper and glue in place.

3. Take the second paper towel and roll half in pink construction paper and half in purple construction and glue in place.

4. Cut the covered paper towel tubes in half.

5. Cut 15 small circles from the red construction paper. Take three circles and glue two next to each other and a third below to make berries. Do this next to each candle until all circles are used.

6. Cut 4 rain drop shapes (to make a flame) from the yellow construction paper. Each week glue the yellow construction paper to the candle to make a flame. On the first week light the purple candle, the second week light the second purple candle, the third week light the pink candle and on the fourth week light the final purple candle.

A Meal to Share during the Advent Season

Slow-Cooker Barley & Bean Soup 

Make Sunday dinner during Advent into a special family gathering with a simple, easy dinner. Growing up in a large family, we knew everyone would be together for a family dinner after Mass on Sunday. Let the smells and aromas of a slow stress-free dinner fill your house and heart during the Advent Season. Choose a member of the family to lead grace and enjoy an evening together. This is the perfect setting to light the candles on your Advent wreath and invite all to join in a special prayer for that week.

Ingredients:
– 1 cup dried multi-bean mix or Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
– 1/2 cup pearl barley (Instant works great, I cook separate and add at end when soup is done)
– 3 cloves garlic, smashed
– 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
– 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
– 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
– 1 bay leaf
– Salt to taste
– 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend (basil, oregano)
– Freshly ground black pepper
– One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
– 3 cups cleaned baby spinach leaves (about 3 ounces)
– 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, extra for garnish

1. Put 6 cups water, the beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, 1 tablespoons salt, herb blend, some pepper in a slow cooker. Squeeze the tomatoes through your hands over the pot to break them down and add their juices. Cover and cook on high until the beans are quite tender and the soup is thick, about 8 hours. 

2. Add the spinach and cheese, and stir until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. 

3. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve with a baguette.