The annual Seminarian Christmas Party is a time to celebrate the past year with family and friends. Including 2 new men present who are in the application process for seminary, the 32 men helped decorate the refectory in the Holy Cross Diocesan Center to welcome their parents and friends, as well as diocesan priests, deacons, the sisters from Mater Redemptoris, the Knights of Columbus and the La Crosse Area Vocations Society, just to name a few.
The celebration begins with a Mass where, this year, 4 seminarians received the Right of Candidacy and they are: Joseph Richards, Eric Mashak, Timothy Reither and Steven Weller.
The Rite of Candidacy publicly establishes the intention of those aspiring to be admitted to Holy Orders that they consider themselves ready to respond to the call of the Lord and that they have the necessary qualifications and have achieved sufficient maturity to pursue Holy Orders. It is the seminarians’ public “Yes” that they will follow Jesus Christ as His priest. Ordinarily the Rite of Candidacy is received prior to a seminarian entering his first year of theological studies. After becoming a candidate, the seminarian is then expected to grow into his priestly identity by wearing clerical clothing at public events with the bishop, such as at ordinations. This helps them to get used to the public persona they are now undertaking as a man studying for the priesthood. Candidacy is also the first of the five times that a seminarian undergoes the necessary questions, or scrutinies, required by Canon Law prior to being ordained to the priesthood. The other four times are the Ministry of Acolyte, the Ministry of Lector, Ordination to the Diaconate and Ordination to Sacred Orders (Priesthood).
– Fr. Alan Wierzba, Director of the Office for Vocations
After Mass, the almost 200 attendees joined in a social hour and formal dinner, where families of the seminarians were able to meet and get to know each other. Fr. Wierzba and Bishop Callahan both addressed the attendees and thanked them for supporting our seminarians during another great year.