They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I still can't help myself! What you see above is Cardinal Sean O'Malley and four seminarians. Three of them entered this year and one of them entered last year. Not pictured with them are two other seminarians who are studying in Rome. What do these six men have in common? They were all active members of the Boston University Catholic Center. Let me tell you briefly about the men who are pictured.
On the far left is Bobby LeBlanc. The chaplain before me at BU asked Bobby in his senior year if he would volunteer for a year at the Catholic Center as our intern. The word "intern" is an understatement. It is a job whose work never ends. After volunteering for a year at the Catholic Center, to my great joy, Bobby succumbed to my pleading and begging and volunteered a second year. He entered the seminary this year. One of the great joys of priesthood is living friendship with people much older than you and much younger than you. In the two years that Bobby and I worked together, it is safe to say that we became great friends in Christ. When Bobby told me he wanted to apply to seminary, we were sitting at a restaurant in Cambridge. I texted the Vocation Director while we were sitting there and the ball got rolling.
Next to Bobby is Tom Murphy. Tom graduated from BU a few years ago (before I ever got to BU) and was asked by my predecessor to serve as the intern. (Becoming the intern at the BU Catholic Center is dangerous)! After spending a year of service to the BU Catholic Community, Tom became a FOCUS Missionary. He served his first year at NYU and then became the FOCUS Team Director at the University of Maine.
On the other side of the Cardinal is Aaron Yuengert. Aaron graduated from BU two years ago. After graduation, Aaron did a year of service in NET Ministries. This evening, I read a beautiful blog post from Aaron. I include the link HERE. (I hope Aaron knows that blogging can be a lot of work!!!)
Finally, on the far right is Denis Nakkeeran. When I arrived at BU my first summer, Denis was the first kid that I met. On my first day, Denis took me around the campus and helped me get all of my paperwork filled out and my Terrier Card. He was good to me. I remember as we were walking that day, I asked him what his major was. Denis was in the pre-med program. He told me about his classes. The titles of his classes were over my head! Then I asked him what he was going to do next year and he told me that he was thinking about seminary. Funny how you remember some things with absolute clarity. When Denis told me that, we were walking up the ramp towards Marsh Chapel. Every time I walk up that ramp, I think about that.
Some of the guys from BU who are now in the seminary, I know well. Others, I know, but they graduated and worked there long before me. But, I love them all. And the students and staff at the CC love these guys and admire them. It fills our Catholic Center with joy to know that these brothers of ours are in the seminary. Something very beautiful and powerful is happening at the BU Catholic Center. It's a privilege to be a part of it.
I encourage you to pray for these young men and the two others who are studying in Rome. Besides praying for them, be encouraged by them. When I look at that photo, I am reminded that the Gospels are not something relegated to the past. Right now, Jesus is walking among us, calling men to follow him as his priests. Today, young men are hearing the call of Jesus and leaving everything behind to follow him. One of the great privileges of my life as a priest has been to witness this extraordinary event over and over again. Even though I have seen it often, each time it comes as a beautiful and profound surprise. Look at that photo and rejoice!