Diocese of Venice Seminarians with Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Aug. 10, 2020 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. (BOB REDDY | FC)

Seminarians end summer united in Christ

VENICE  |  The seminarians of the Diocese of Venice have had an eventful past five months, but they are now returning to their respective seminaries after having gathered as a group one last time this summer.

The group has a story to tell having had their spring semester disrupted by a global pandemic. Many have had to go through quarantine at some point during that period. In fact, quarantine is again necessary as they return to seminary either in Miami, Boynton Beach, Rome or Weston, Massachusetts.

“It’s what we have to do,” explained Juan Contreras as he prepared to return to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. “The experience of the past few months has brought me closer to the Lord. These are scary times, but whether at school, or at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish (in Naples) for my summer assignment, relying on Christ to guide me has brought great comfort.”

The annual Seminarian Convocation took place Aug. 10-12, 2020, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center and included time for prayer, reflection and preparation for the next step in their spiritual journey. The retreat was led by Father Michael Nixon, Pastor of St. Dominic Parish in Panama City, Florida. Bishop Frank J. Dewane visited the seminarians several times during the Convocation, including celebrating Mass Aug. 12. At that time, Bishop Dewane complimented the seminarians for their continued discernment for a vocation to the priesthood noting that they must themselves continue to answer the question posed by Christ to the Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15)..

“As you are about to go off to your respective seminaries to live in community vis-à-vis the pandemic; I pray that somehow that six feet apart means that you come closer together in the heart, one to the other,” Bishop Dewane said. “You are called to do this.”

With the group assigned to four different seminaries, the convocation offered the opportunity for those early in their formation process to hear from those who are further along. This mentoring helps build the bond amongst the group and helps everyone understand that the discernment process is not only done in the classroom but through the entire experience in seminary, during Parish assignments as well as in their personal life.

This year, the group witnessed the priestly ordination of one of their own in June, and another was ordained a Transitional Deacon in April. In addition, before returning to seminary, Seminarian Alexander Pince will also be ordained as a transitional deacon.

Bishop Dewane will preside over the ordination of Pince at 11 a.m., Aug. 29, 2020, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The ordination was originally scheduled for Oct. 1, 2020, in Rome, but the date was changed to allow more of his friends and family to attend. The ordination is open to the public and reception will follow in the Cathedral Parish Hall. 

Born in Concord, New Hampshire, Pince is the fourth of seven children and a graduate of Ave Maria University. He credits his choice of vocation to his uncle, a priest in Burlington, Vermont, who was his role model from an early age.

“The changes from the end of the year, when we left Italy in the middle of the semester, then moving the ordination have strengthened my resolve to become a priest. I allow the graces of the Holy Spirit to continue to guide me on this path,” Pince explained. “The change was at first disappointing, but if I waited until October, no one would have been there. Having it here, in the Diocese, will allow my family and friends to be present and that is a true blessing.”

Please pray for our seminarians as they return to their respective seminaries and continue in discerning their vocation and formation for the priesthood. Diocese of Venice Seminarians are supported through the Diocese Catholic Faith Appeal, the Knights of Columbus and the generosity of the faithful. 

Parishioners from around the Diocese are encouraged to help support the seminarians in their studies and choice of vocation through prayer and financial assistance. Donations may be sent to: Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

For more information about the seminarians or Vocations, contact Father Shawn Roser at roser@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-486-4720, or visit www.venicevocations.com.