When you last saw me I was 18 years old and about to enter the seminary to begin his studies to the priesthood. Corpus Christi Minor Seminary was my first home away from home. Both my parents had been very supportive.
When I first told them I didn’t know what to expect. We were in our pickup truck. I was driving, my Mother was in the middle and Dad was on the passenger side. I asked them what they thought about the idea of me getting married. Mother jumped in right away with the objections. “You just graduated, you do not have a job, where are you going to live?” Dad said, “Wait a minute. Since you’re the oldest my responsibility is to your younger brothers and sister. I will help you, but you know my policy, once you get married, you move out of the house and start your own next.” I said that I agreed; but that I was not planning on getting married. I said, “I want to join the seminary and study to become a priest.” Silence. Then my Father said, “I woke up this morning feeling so happy. I thought that today might be the day that I was going to die. But it was because you were going to give me this great news. We are proud of you and will give you our full support.” Mother said that she was not surprised. She had consecrated me to the Blessed Mother when I was born and my news was a confirmation of Her care. On the day that they dropped me off at the seminary Dad said, “We did not tell you to go into the priesthood, but if you every change your mind, the door will always be open, not questions asked.” With freedom I began an eight-year plan that took me to three different seminaries and universities. Majoring in music sounded exciting but meant that I had to attend summer sessions to acquire a minor in Philosophy, (15 credit hours) which was a requirement. The first two years of studies were in Corpus Christi Minor Seminary and Del Mar College. (5 Pictures) I was transferred to Assumption Seminary and Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio where I completed a bachelor’s degree in music in 1975. (Photos)
From Falfurrias to San Antonio was light years away. After San Antonio I transferred to St. Meinrad, Indiana to study Theology with Benedictine monks. I had never met a monk face to face. At Corpus Christi we were 12 seminarians in the college program. In San Antonio we were 30. At St. Meinrad there were 180 of us in the four years of theology. A drastic move, from expressways and traffic jams to the absence of civilization in the middle of rolling hills of Southern Indiana. Another big difference was that on a campus of over 500 men there were only about 6 women, all over the age of 50. (Photo)
(Photos) Bells rang every hour and 15 minutes continuously before Holy Mass. Three Masses were celebrated at the same time each day: one with the monks, the theologians and the collegians. We all had a telephone in our rooms but for long distance we went through an operator. A call home every two—three weeks was what we could afford so I recorded my voice on cassette tapes and mailed them to my parents. They did the same for me, which kept me updated on family news and the local gossip. The campus was huge, with five lakes for our enjoyment. Most attractive was the Unstable—a pub where we could buy beer, wine, and pizza. Never knew why it was name the “Unstable”, unless there was a connection of how people walked when they came out. No trotillas, no frijoles, no tamales—just German sausage and sour crout and lots of potatoes. Only four of us spoke Spanish. Emphasis was placed on prayer and work--ora et labora—straight from the Rule of St. Benedict. Writing papers on my typewriter, reading, praying—there was not much time for fooling around. Our courses were grounded in Church Tradition: studies in Canon Law, the Psalms, Old Testament, Church in the early Roman Empire, Letters of St. Paul, each of the Gospels, Marriage, Pastoral Counseling, Liturgy and Liturgical Practicum. All the courses were taught by monks, except for one—preaching. We had a Presbyterian minister. He told us that Catholic priests were not too good at preaching, so they hired him. To this day, his method is still used by his disciples. I’m one of them. (Last Photo) Thank you to all who had the patience to teach me, direct me, council me. Four years of undergraduate studies and four years of Theology and there is still so much more to learn.
To be continued…