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Dear Friends of SJV!

Greetings in Christ! We are now five weeks into the semester and the men are in good form. It has been an exciting few weeks, which culminated in the Mass and Banquet for the installation of lectors and acolytes. We paired this event with Parents Weekend, always a highlight of the semester.

Seminary is a long, seven year process – and so these two occasions are pivotal steps in the life of a man journeying towards Priesthood. Lector is a ministry received in the beginning of Theology II (year five) and Acolyte, the beginning of Theology III (year six). In the former, a man is commissioned and configured around the Word of God in Sacred Scripture; in the latter, to Christ in the Eucharist. A heartfelt congratulations to our men who received these ministries from Bishop Rodriguez!

This month’s entries are worth the read: Fr. Dan Barron has been at the heart of the seminary, being the director of spiritual formation for the last decade. He has now moved on to a new post but continues on as a spiritual director. And secondly, one of our great chefs, Sabrina, shares her story of becoming Catholic this past year. We are blessed by the gift of her faith, love of the seminarians, and devastatingly good desserts.

Lastly, I am grateful to announce the publication of my book, A Bride Adorned: Mary-Church Perichoresis in Modern Catholic Theology. As the title suggests (and is a bit scary), this is an academic book rooted in my dissertation research; but has been substantially rewritten to be more accessible. At the heart of it – Mary and the Church are a single mystery, that unless understood in relationship to each other, cannot be truly known – for they are the bride of God, adorned by his grace. If you are interested in learning more or purchasing the book, you can do so by clicking here.

Many thanks for your prayers for our seminary. Know of ours, and our continued gratitude.

In Christ,

Fr. John

Annual Retreats

The primary change to the spiritual formation program at SJV in recent years has been to the annual retreats. Every year seminarians are required to make a 5-8 day retreat.

Seminary retreats used to be preached retreats, where a speaker would come in to offer a series of conferences on some spiritual theme. Such retreats are economical, because only one retreat director is needed, but hit-or-miss in quality depending on the gifts of the speaker and the relevance of the theme to each seminarian.

Since 2012, all retreats at SJV are Ignatian silent directed retreats. The seminarians go away for a week to a prayerful location and pray four or five hours a day with Scripture and meet daily with an assigned priest spiritual director. The spiritual director is able to guide each seminarian individually based on what God seems to be doing in the seminarian’s prayer. These retreats build on the foundational experience of the 30-day Spiritual Exercises that every seminarian makes during his Spirituality (Propaedeutic) Year. The silent directed retreats are more expensive, because an additional priest director is needed for every 5 seminarians, but it’s worth it. These retreats are frequently life-changing events that bring profound inner healing and they help the seminarians definitively discern God’s will for their lives.

We hope that the seminarians, having experienced the grace and power of many good retreats, will continue to seek out silent directed retreats as priests.

-Fr. Daniel Barron

Becoming Catholic 

April 8, 2023, was the day I entered the Catholic faith. Yes, RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) was an important part of becoming Catholic, but the beautiful part was the part I wasn’t expecting, the part before I even thought about becoming Catholic.

I moved here from Texas to be the Pastry Chef for SJV in October 2021. What unfolded over the next 9 months was all part of Gods plan.

I had only been here a couple of months and still hadn’t ventured out to church. So, one day after lunch service, I asked Fr. Wallace, if he knew of a good Methodist Church. He just looked at me, he may have said something like “I’ll let you know…” He never did get back to me. I’m so grateful he never did.  God had other plans.

See, believing in God was new for me. I had only been a believer for a couple of years before I came to SJV. In fact, I was baptized only a couple of weeks before I moved to Denver. This next part…I still tear up when I think about it.

I was introduced to seminarians that truly believed Jesus was real. They believed it so much that they were willing to give up everything for Him and follow Him and spread the most important message. This wasn’t a fad or brainwashing. It was true belief in the one true God. When the concept that they were giving up everything truly hit me, I mean the true gravity of that reality…. I was in shock and awe. I always wanted to meet people that truly believed, that would give up everything and live out their faith in and for Jesus. I was now surrounded by dozens of them. I had to know more, and I was pretty relentless about it. I was so fascinated. Talking with them, asking questions (some I’m sure were ridiculous) praying with them and watching them. I was a sponge. They witnessed to me day in and day out! I found myself listening to Bishop Barron and then telling my co-worker, Ben all about it the next day as we prepared lunch. I was like this kid that had discovered something that I could not quite explain but it made me feel more comfortable in my own skin than anything else had. I started going to mass and fell in love with the beauty of each service. I didn’t understand a lot of what was happening (RCIA filled that in for me) but it didn’t matter, God was there, and I felt oddly at home!

Finally, one day Ben said, “I’ll sponsor you”. Wait, what?? I didn’t realize you needed a sponsor. This was serious! I’m so glad that it is treated with such great respect.

I’m not sure that I can tell you exactly why I wanted to become Catholic other than the fact that I truly felt love. However, I can tell you that not being Catholic doesn’t make sense.  It’s the most important decision that I have ever made. Although, I believe God had more to do with it than me.

Sabrina Davis

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