September 8, 2010 | The Long Island Catholic Vol. 49, No. 20 | BISHOP WILLIAM MURPHY
Last week I had the privilege of offering the opening retreat to the seminarians at our Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. When first I came to be Bishop of our diocese nine years ago, I was convinced it would be good for the Bishop of Brooklyn and me to alternate giving the opening retreat for the academic year to all the seminarians at the major seminary from our two dioceses. Now we have men from several other dioceses in other countries such as Congo, Uganda, Korea, and India. This creates a diverse and multicultural atmosphere that has been a blessing for the seminary and for the formation of these men for the priesthood.
Bishop DiMarzio and I have been alternating as retreat masters because we believe it is important for the future priests to see us as spiritual fathers to our priests, rather than only as bishops who can seem to be distant figures. I am happy to tell you that at this retreat as well as the many other times I am at the seminary, the seminarians interact with Bishop DiMarzio and me in a very healthy, relaxed way. We both make ourselves available for formal and informal contacts with the men preparing for the priesthood. In addition we and other bishops come to celebrate Mass on a regular basis whenever there are ordinations or special events at our seminary.
The focus of my retreat conferences this time was the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church. We reflected together on Mary within the Mystery of the Divine Life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the meaning of her Immaculate Conception as preparation for her “yes” to God at the moment of the Annunciation and her living out of that mystery in her faithful witness. Then we had an opportunity to reflect on Mary, the faithful Daughter of Sion, the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament and what that means for our understanding of the “form” of the Mother of God for our lives. The next conferences addressed Mary and the Church, seeing the Church as truly Marian in her form and shape and in her experience of the love of God revealed in Christ. Then we looked together at Mary in her relationship to priests and found in her fundamental aspects of discipleship as service which shapes the life of the priest as servant of God and thus as servant of the People of God. The last morning we had a more practical exchange on Mary in the life of a seminarian in formation. This last morning gave us all a chance to talk together about some of the challenges and opportunities that face men preparing for the priesthood in the twenty-first century. During these days we prayed together, offered Mass together and maintained an atmosphere of contemplation by silence except when an individual seminarian came for a private conversation with me or the spiritual director.
It pleases me to tell you what a fine group of men we have at our seminary. They are serious and committed. They are eager to deepen their spiritual lives. This year the seminary has inaugurated a holy hour every evening of the week. In addition to participation in daily Mass, the seminarians pray morning and evening prayer together in common. Devotion to the rosary is universal. Each seminarian has a faculty advisor and a spiritual director with whom he meets regularly. The faculty is of the highest quality. Two neighboring diocesan bishops recently commented to me that they believe we have as fine a faculty as exists anywhere in this part of the country. The rector has been a professor at our seminary for over 22 years and is recognized by one and all as a holy, zealous priest who is a solid theologian and professor of Church History. The Board of Governors, composed mostly of lay men and women, meets four times a year with the two bishops and has taken a great interest in and made a serious commitment to overseeing the good of the seminary. There is every reason to be pleased because the Lord has blessed this house of formation under the protection of Mary in her title of the Immaculate Conception.
Sunday October 24th the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception at its home on 440 West Neck Road in Huntington will celebrate her 80th birthday. The rector has formed an 80th anniversary committee with representatives from both dioceses and has discussed with me how to observe this important milestone.
In these 80 years this seminary has been where most of the priests of our two dioceses have been prepared for priesthood. That means that the seminary in Huntington has been the principal source of priests in all our parishes. It would be impossible to honor all the priests at this time because it would mean virtually all the priests of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre. So we decided to honor the seminarians themselves!
May I extend an invitation to one and all to meet and greet the seminarians of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday October 24 from 4 p.m. This gala event includes evening prayer and benediction, at which I will preside and Bishop DiMarzio will preach, followed by a reception including an opportunity to meet the seminarians and visit the beautiful grounds of our seminary on Lloyd Harbor. For information and tickets, please call the office of Beverly Malone at the Seminary, 631-423-0483, extension 102.
Pray for our seminarians as you pray for my brother priests. They will be the priests of tomorrow to bring Christ to your children and grandchildren. What greater blessing could we have than good, holy and well formed priests to keep this beloved diocese alive with the sacraments and the celebration of the Eucharist, the Lord’s greatest gift to us and to the world.