Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Busy Week at "The Joe"

Hello there ladies and gents, this is my first post to the blog, but hopefully not my last. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Ben Rexroat, and I am a seminarian for the diocese of Gaylord. I am finishing up my second year of seminary here in Columbus and the Josephinum. I will be finishing up my philosophical studies this spring and will begin Theology this fall here at the Josephinum.
My Team, the Krazy Kopes

It has been a busy week here at the Josephinum. Last Saturday (St Patrick's day) the theologate (the part of the seminary where both the theology and pre-theology seminarians live) threw our spring trivia night. I was on one of the trivia teams and although we didn't win, we had a lot of fun. Our team consisted of (from left to right in the picture) a seminarian from Phoenix Arizona, a seminarian from Arlington Virginia, a Passionist priest, a Diocesan priests from California, and myself. Both the priests are Theology faculty members here at the Josephinum.  We were definitely the most fun team, being the only team that had costumes (although we may have done a little better if we spent more time on studying trivia and less time on making costumes). The topics ranged from the rock and roll hall of fame to quotes of saints and popes. It was a great night of fraternity with our brother seminarians and with the priest faculty, many of whom attended.

Last week was very warm down here in Columbus, and signs of spring are everywhere on campus. Leaves are sprouting the daffodils and dogwood trees are blooming and everything is that new spring green. Of course there are other signs of spring here at the Josephinum as well. It doesn't take long after the
Dcn. Peter Wigton about to hit a single
weather gets nice for impromptu softball games to spring up. One of my favorite things about seminary is how the ordinary things become extraordinary by the seamless flow from fun to prayer. Everything we do culminates in prayer, even a simple softball game on a Sunday afternoon. Every time this happens I think that this is how the world should be, where every aspect of life, from the serious to the silly, is all a part of our relationship with God. Where nothing is too mundane to be offered up to Him for His greater glory.
Closing Prayer (my favorite part)

The Fishermen telling fishy tales
Of Course it wouldn't be spring at the Josephinum if guys weren't out fishing at Lake George (no, we do not actually have a lake on campus, Lake George is a pond, and not a particularly large one at that). Probably our most avid fisherman is a our head spiritual director, I got a chuckle walking through the hall and seeing his fishing pole leaned up against the door to his office with a tackle box and bait. I think even Father Don has fished in Lake George during a visit.

With warm weather comes a spring storm or two and we even had a tornado warning this past week. We all gathered down in the basement and prayed a rosary. By the time the rosary was over, so was the worst of the storm. Again, it is so great to be in a place where our our faith and our daily activities are so integrated... where God is central to all we do.
Weathering the storm
Part of what made this week so busy was two feast days that are particularly important here at the Josephinum. The first was the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, who is the patron saint of the Josephinum. That day we have very beautiful liturgies and a formal lunch where we honored our faculty and staff who have served the Josephinum for a number of years or in a particularly distinguished way over the last year. Also, Friday was the commemoration of St. Turibius. I had never even heard of St. Turibius before I came to seminary, so don't feel to bad if you haven't either. He is a pretty amazing fellow though, so I suggest you look him up. He was the first known saint of the new world and the Archbishop of Lima for 26 years. He is special here at the Jospehinum because he is the patron of our main chapel. So on Friday we again had very beautiful liturgies and had our statue of St. Turibius in a prominent place in the chapel. To cap off the busy week, they guys from Gaylord got together Saturday afternoon for a cookout to grow closer together as hopefully (God willing) future brother priest of the diocese. The business wasn't over for me though, since later on that evening was the seminarian pop-culture symposium (which I chaired this time) on fatherhood. I gave talk about the images of absentee fatherhood in films and particularly in the song Cat's in the Cradle and how it should be a warning to future priests. We had five other presenters and overall I think the night was a great success.

It is not all fun and games (and prayer) here at the Josephinum though. As busy as last week was, I have four tests and a boatload of Latin homework to do this week. The nice thing is that at the end of this week is a break. It won't be long before I will be back in the diocese for the first time since Christmas break. Between coming home and Easter, I have a lot to look forward to... I am truly blessed.

Ben Rexroat

Monday, March 12, 2012

Just another day...

On Saturday I had every intention to get up early to make the pilgrimage walk to the station church for Holy Mass. But as it turned out at some point during the night I turned off my alarm. It probably was for the best since I slept in till 8 AM and awoke refreshed (oh and don't worry I still went to the morning house Mass ;)). The sun didn't wake me because Europeans have these great shutters that block out all light...

Anyways, I was bummed because I missed a station church so I decided to head on over to Sts. Peter and Marcellinus on Saturday evening. Though I cheated and I took the bus. My timing was perfect and I made it there in time for the Diocese of Rome's station church liturgy. It wasn't Mass this time, but rather a procession, litany of the saints, and solemn Vespers. The procession through the streets with the relics of the martyrs Peter and Marcellinus was great. Even in Italy heads were turning. Can you imagine what people would say if they saw us doing a procession like that in the States? I realized tonight how much I love the Romans now ... from the little old ladies singing off key and complaining in what they think is a whispering voice to the off key cantor to the myriad of young boys in cassocks that don't fit them well to the good monsignor's rousing homily, all wrapped up into an ancient but strong faith ... After Evening Prayer I and a few other guys took a stroll around the neighborhood since we had never explored that area of Rome before. We found some pretty unique stores and a neat little Irish pub nestled in some hidden away corner. Though our attempts to go to dinner were thwarted because all the restaurants that we tried required advance reservations (alas we should have just eaten at the Irish pub). Of course we couldn't go hungry so we took the metro back (which was only my third time using it) to familiar territory where we knew we could find a friendly restaurant.

Just thought I'd share a simple that story with you that gave me pause to thank God for all of his many gifts especially for the gift of the holy martyrs who still to this day witness to us.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hello from Ohio!

Hello everyone! As this is my first post, I would like to quickly introduce myself for those who may not know.  My name is Deacon Peter Wigton, and I am currently finishing up my seminary studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.  I will be ordained a priest, God willing, on June 9, 2012.  Please keep me in your prayers, and I would love to see you there if you are able to make it. 
Pontifical College Josephinum
As you may know, many of the seminarians from the Diocese of Gaylord, 9 in fact, are currently studying at the Josephinum, and both of our Roman seminarians, Tyler Bischoff and Matt Cowan, studied philosophy here as well.  That being the case, we thought that we would share with you some of what our lives are like.  
Main Entrance
This photo to the left is of the front of the seminary and the statue is of our founder, Monsignor Joseph Jessing.  As you can see, it is a very beautiful campus, one which I have had the blessing of calling home for the last four years.  Interesting fact, since our enrollment this year is up, some of the deacon class had to move to the guest suites in the front administration building.  This means that my room is just over the main entrance door.  My window can be seen to the right behind the cross. 
My deacon year here has been quite wonderful and busy as I expected it would be.  I am currently working on two thesis papers.  The first is for my Masters of Sacred Theology with a concentration in Sacred Scripture.  My topic is "The use of the word 'mother' in the Gospel of John."  Sounds so exciting, I know.  My second thesis is on "Marian Participation in the Liturgy."  Both of these papers are studies on Our Lady.  I have really enjoyed them so far, but will be happy when they are done.  
St. Joseph's Oratory
Of course, along with studies, my daily life is full of many other activities.  First and foremost is prayer.  Here at the Josephinum we are blessed with four chapels, my favorite of which is St. Joseph's Oratory in the Theology house.  This is were I've been going to Mass and praying the Liturgy of the Hours on a daily basis since I came here.  Most stunning of all are the stained-glass windows.  
Championship Game Tip Off

One of the great aspects about the Josephinum, is our community life and activities.  We love to engage in brotherhood and can be found playing a pickup game of basketball, soccer, frisbee, softball and flag football on a regular basis.  This activities are usually followed by time spent together in our game rooms, lounges and pubs.  Just recently, we had our annual basketball tournament.  Every year we invite other seminaries to come and compete.  The main idea is to get to know other seminarians and to build community amongst the future priests of our country.  This year Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit won the trophy.  Our team made the championship game and even gave them a run for their money, but didn't quite pull it off.   Above you can see me jumping for the tip off of the championship game.  At least I won that!  

Well, this will hopefully give you a very general idea of what life is like here.  Rest assure that there is more to come.  Of course you can see what the Josephinum is up to by visiting our website at www.pcj.edu.  Ciao for now! 


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Game time

The Clericus Cup began on Saturday with the opening game between the North American College and the Redemptoris Mater Seminary ("RedMat".

The Clericus Cup is a soccer tournament sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Italian Episcopal conference. Over 400 seminarians and priests from 70 different countries from the various pontifical semaries are participating in the tournament this year.

The theme for the sixth annual Clericus Cup is "Giocare per credere" which mean, "play to believe". The theme is taken from the Pope's announcement of the Year of Faith, which will begin in October.

Our first game against "RedMat" was a thriller. I'm not much a follower of the international soccer scene or soccer in general. So I was really surprised by the intensity of the match. The NAC and RedMat brought a large contingent of fans to cheer throughout the entire game, which of course added to the intensity.

At the final whistle, the North American Martrys processed off the pitch victoriously. The final score was 1-0. The only goal of the game was scored by Justin Blanc in a throw-in tippied by the goalie's finger. A more detailed article can found here.

Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to the rest of the tournament...

(Photos courtesy of Chris Brashears)