The Comeback Seminaries

The Comeback Seminaries

Fr. Damian is right, the church is #ALIVEinCLE
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Last week, a great priest friend and mentor of mine Fr. Damian Ference wrote an opinion piece in the Pain Dealer titled “The Comeback of Cleveland Seminarians.” The piece generated quite a buzz on my newsfeed. Seeing the great conversation that it generated made me realize really what the comeback of Cleveland seminaries means in my life.

Fr. Damian writes of his time in the seminary when the Catholic Church abuse scandal broke. The shame that the Catholic Church was put in at that time was horrible, and after his ordination class, a record ten since 1988, numbers dropped. But recently, just as Cleveland has become the comeback town, we have the Comeback Seminaries.

The fact that there are twelve high school graduates from the class of 2016 in Borromeo Seminary is astounding. Two of which are valedictorians. As a valedictorian myself, I know that people look at me weird when I tell them that I am studying Theology. Why am I not perusing a medical degree or engineering degree or really anything that holds higher value in modern society? Because of the Comeback Seminary.

I was never born to be a doctor. I can’t stand needles, and the thought of blood is enough to make me faint. Up until the summer before my senior year of high school, I was sure that I would be a teacher. High school chemistry or physics, which most people think sounds disgusting, but I really loved the subjects. Probably could’ve been pretty good at it too, figuring that I helped some kids with Chem. 101 last year.

But I felt a call to something greater, just as those twelve seniors did that are now in Borromeo. I am happily studying Theology, deepening my faith, and hoping to be an amazing youth minister. I love learning about the church and figuring out ways to make the outreach greater so that we can continue to expand vocations and passionate people within the church.

The people that I have met through the help and outreach of the Cleveland Seminaries have been instrumental in my own faith growth. The priests and faculty, those recently ordained to the priesthood, those that God-willing will be ordained soon, and those that still have quite a way from ordination, the youth groups that come from all over for XLTs and the lifelong friendships made at Tolle Lege, the best Catholic Nerd Camp around.

I know it is not only my faith. There are four other Clevelanders in my class, that I know of, studying with me at Walsh with majors or minors in Theology. And those are just the kids from Cleveland. Two of my best friends are joining different convents this year to further their own vocational call and I have great friends in the undergraduate seminary. It is because of the presence that the passionate priests and seminarians have in our lives that we are able to find the strength and courage to defy societal norms and authentically live out our faith.

People tend to tell kids that they are the “future of the church” which is totally wrong. We are the present of the church! The church in Cleveland is alive, young, and growing. The average age of incoming seminarians and newly ordained priests in Cleveland are 20 and 29 respectively, far below the national average. Vocations to religious life are thriving and those ready to devote their life to the church are increasing in number. Try and tell me I am the future again and I might laugh, because as you can see, my generation is going to change the world — or at least Cleveland. I can feel it already.

Cover Image Credit: Don And Leslie

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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The Heartbeat Of Your Morning Routine Should Be To Seek God

Stop making your morning routine all about you!

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There is something very calming and relaxing about waking up early, starting your day as everyone else is asleep.

This past week, I've been waking up every weekday at around 6 a.m. (for some, that's not early, but for the rest of us who are actually OK with having an inkling of humility, 6 a.m. is pretty early). Let me tell ya something:

Waking up early has been changing my life.

Here's my typical, morning routine: Wake up at 6 a.m., get to the gym by 6:30, work out, get back to the house and in the shower by 7:45, breakfast until 8:30, keep a last thirty minutes or so to get dressed, check emails, go over my daily schedule.

Then comes the fork in the road. My earliest day, I have meetings at 10 a.m. or work shifts at 10:30. If my day begins early, I bolt out the door. If my day begins later, I may relax for a bit before leaving. But that's not the ultimate "fork in the road," aka the choice I make each morning that truly solidifies my routine.

The ultimate heartbeat of my morning routine is spending time alone, praying to God and reading/reflecting on Scripture.

For me, this component serves to be the most crucial of all the elements that go into my morning routine, and I think it should be just as crucial for you, too!

First of all, most of these other elements can really be pushed around throughout the day. Working out in the morning feels good, but I can just as much go to the gym the night before. Same with taking a shower (I never understood people who take showers in the morning instead of at night. Like what are you doing? You get dirty during the day. Clean ya dang body after a long day, not right when you get up. Good grief. Then again, I have turned into a morning shower person, but I chalk that up to my fallen, sin nature).

Breakfast? You can make and have that on the go. Why are you wasting your time cooking a gourmet meal every morning? You ain't that special. You don't deserve that, cut it out.

Plan your day in the morning? Maybe go searching for a little thing called forethought and organize that, you know, the day before! I can't imagine planning my day the day of. Sure, I review it, but ain't no way I'm going to bed tonight being all like "Eh, let's see what happens tomorrow, can't imagine it'll be anything I need to prepare for in advance!"

All of these things stack up as making a productive morning for sure, but there is a reason why prayer and reading Scripture matter the most to me when going through my daily routine.

When we spend time alone with God, there are no expectations. I'm not doing it for societal pressure. I'm not doing it so others can see my being holy (I'm doing it alone, after all). Every other aspect of my morning routine is produced from these expectations, these pressures.

Now, none of these pressures are evil in and of themselves. Exercise, hygiene, nutrition, preparation: these are all good, but they are not God. They all shape us, but they do not save us.

It is from hearing God's voice each day and reading about Him, I am reminded why any of this matters. I am reminded that this life I have is not my own, that I can't just have my selfish morning routine just for my own sake. This spiritual heartbeat of my morning reminds me that everything I am doing in the morning is preparing me to serve and love others better: I'm in good shape to be at the ready, I have appropriate hygiene to be welcoming to others, I am well fed so as not be hangry or driven by emotion, and I have reviewed my day, full of appointments and meetings to encourage and serve others.

There is a story in one of the biographical accounts of Jesus. He "[leaves] the house and [goes] off to a solitary place, where He [prays]" (Mark 1:35, NIV). Once His followers find Him, Jesus responds by immediately leading them where God has told Him to go: to the nearby villages, to preach of God's Love and call to follow Him.

Ultimately, if meeting with God was the heartbeat of Jesus' day, the single component that mattered the most in guiding Him in using His time and helping Him pursue God, it should be the exact same way for you and me. For us to assume otherwise is simply a sign of God not truly being God to us, just as another "good" we stack into our day.

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