Ordination Vacation 2015

Source: St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary

At Winona, it is a long-established custom that groups of boys, whether altar servers or school children, visit the Seminary when there are ordinations. Witnessing the solemn ceremonies, or even the everyday life of the Seminary with its silence and special hours of prayer, could leave an impression that becomes the seed of a vocation. At the very least, the boys become more aware of the Society’s national and international presence (much broader than the extent of their local chapel) and its essential focus on the traditional priesthood.

This year, a total of forty-two men and boys were lodged at the Seminary over the busy weekend preceding Passion Sunday. Thursday, March 19, was the feast of St. Joseph; Friday marked the conferring of the Minor Orders, and Saturday the Subdiaconate. His Excellency Bishop Tissier de Mallerais celebrated Pontifical Masses on each of these days. The seminarians had prepared polyphonic pieces for each of the ceremonies, which were celebrated with all possible solemnity.

The visitors were given tours of the whole building and were invited to participate in the Divine Office and other liturgical functions. “I didn’t think that there would be this many priests and seminarians,” one boy remarked. “I really enjoyed the singing,” another guest observed, lamenting the scarcity of voices at his own chapel. The boys also joined the seminarians in recreation, crowding the football field and the basketball court; “I liked playing ball the best,” said one boy.

Admittedly, the visitors could not get a fair appreciation of everyday Seminary life from their brief stay. “I thought the Seminary would be more like school,” stated a twelve-year-old from Walton, Kentucky. Ordinarily, the Seminary would indeed remind him of school—but this was an extraordinary weekend. From Thursday through Sunday, the Seminary had no classes, and observed the Sunday schedule: two Masses in the morning and outdoor recreation in the afternoon.

The groups this year came from St. Michael’s Church near Green Bay, Wisconsin; St. Robert Bellarmine Academy in St. Cloud, Minnesota; and Our Lady of the Assumption Priory in Walton, Kentucky. This was the tenth consecutive year that the altar boys from Walton came to see the taking of the Minor Orders and the Subdiaconate. It was the second year for the St. Michael’s group; they also hope to make the annual visit into a tradition.