Being a minister of God’s Word requires more than an academic knowledge of theology. A minister of the Word must be able to recognize and communicate the many ways in which God reveals himself. This wider perspective on God’s revelation has led the seminarians at St. Mary’s to engage the arts as a way of broadening their perspective on God. The fruit of this engagement with the arts is now being shared with wider audiences through two seminarian-founded initiatives.
Details from windows. Complete windows are at end of article.
The first of these initiatives is a journal of seminarian poetry entitled Indwelling: Creative Writing Serving Pastors. This journal represents the fruits of several seminarians who, inspired by the words of Pope St. John Paul II, recognized that encounters with the transcendent God needed to be expressed in more than just academic language and research papers. Wishing to express their relationship with the Lord in more creative means, they approached the President-Rector, Rev. Phillip Brown, PSS, with the idea of publishing poetry written by seminarians. Fr. Brown immediately and enthusiastically supported the idea, and Indwelling was born.
Indwelling is more than simply a creative outlet for seminarians. It helps to form seminarians by providing them with additional tools for bringing people into contact with God. Dr. Bill Scalia, the faculty advisor to Indwelling, observes that the creative writing process has changed the way seminarians think about language. Through the use of poetry, language is not only used to describe but also to invoke the transcendental as well. He reminds the seminarians that, “a lot of what you will be doing in ministry involves finding ways to use language to bring people into contact with the Spirit.” He sees the fruits of Indwelling as one that provides the seminarians with means of sharing their experience of God in ways that allow them to use words to make God incarnate to all who hear their words.
The second issue of Indwelling was dedicated to another seminarian-led initiative: For the Glory of the Father. This project began when the Covid-19 pandemic restricted the seminarians’ usual means of engaging in public ministry. Undeterred in their desire to spread the Gospel, and inspired by the prayer of Fr. Jean-Jacques Olier, founder of the Society of St. Sulpice, the seminarians put their technological skills to work in order to bring the seminary to people through technology.
This project began when a few seminarians recognized that St. Mary’s Chapel had beautiful stained-glass windows that were rarely seen by anyone other than the seminary community. They decided that these windows needed to be shared with a wider audience. The result was For the Glory of the Father, a series of videos that use the windows of St. Mary’s chapel as a means for reflecting upon the life of Christ and the life of a priest. Each video in the series features a seminarian’s reflection on a particular window and the scriptural passage upon which it is based, followed by commentary from a faculty member on the relationship between the window and the life of a priest. The series was made available to the public through YouTube. It also inspired further seminarian reflections on the windows, which became the theme for the second issue of Indwelling.
Both of these initiatives have found wide support from both seminarians and faculty. Nearly 40 seminarians have provided submissions for Indwelling and over 40 seminarians, faculty and staff volunteered their time to produce and promote For the Glory of the Father. Both projects can be accessed through the Saint Mary’s Seminary & University video collection at https://vimeo.com/seminary1791
Brian Carpenter, PSS
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