Over the Hill

I’m officially done with my Middler year! That means that my seminary experience is 2/3 of the way complete. These last two semesters have been difficult and perhaps even frustrating at times, but also rather exciting. Middler year is notorious for being the cause of breakdowns and disillusionment for seminarians. You aren’t a Junior anymore, so everything isn’t still new and fun. But you also aren’t a Senior yet, so you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel like your friends a year ahead of you can. You’re faced with an overwhelming slate of academics and chapel duties, as well as increased demand on you outside of school. And of course, interacting with the same 40 people every day comes with its own blessings and difficulties.  In addition to these things, life at Nashotah House is particularly challenging at the moment as the administration of the seminary has implemented some changes to the community which unfortunately do not seem to be in the best interest of much of the student body. Indeed, this past year has been challenging.

All that being said, my Middler year has also been a time of growth and excitement. In the midst of all the chaos and challenges, I do think I am still continuing to be formed into the priest that Christ has called me to be. I’ve been immensely blessed with a solid group of seminary friends, and we’ve really stuck together as we weather the storm of priestly formation. Also on the brighter side, as you all know, I met my now-fiancee Claire in October of last year, and we are engaged as of February. We will be married late in the summer, and will be moving back up to Nashotah to begin my final year as a married couple! I’m really excited to begin this new chapter of my life with my wife-to-be!

Next week I’ll be moving back to Texas for the summer, and I am beyond excited to be back in God’s country! The couple months I am back will be pretty busy. I’ll start out by counseling at St. Michael’s Conference for the 5th year in a row (I was a conferee for 4 consecutive years prior to that!). That will be followed by a short trip to Estes Park, Colorado with my fiancee and her family. In mid-July I’ll be attending the national assembly of Forward in Faith North America, which has a great lineup of speakers on the subject of “Celebrating God’s Design for Marriage, Family, and the Single Life.” Around the same time, I will be giving a presentation called “Pro-Life 101” to the newest class of Fellows with Texas Right to Life. Many of you know that I was part of this organization when I was in college, and they were instrumental in helping our on-campus Pro-Life organization. I’m excited to play a small part in the training of young Pro-Life leaders who will do great things on college campuses across the state!

The rest of the summer will consist of wedding planning and getting some experience in the field of clinical pastoral work. I’ll be going on sick calls and hospital visits with a few local priests, learning what it is like to provide sacramental and spiritual support for those dealing with sickness and death. This is an important part of priestly work, so I look forward to getting out of my comfort zone and supporting those in need.

As always, thank you so much for all of your prayers and support in my seminary education. I am only able to be formed as a priest because of the generosity of so many friends, parishioners, and strangers, and y’all have blessed me beyond belief.

In Christ,
Joseph

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