SJV Seminarians Make Annual Retreat in Estes Park

AnnualRetreat027Estes Park, CO—”If you miss your annual retreat, you’ve missed the biggest grace of the year!”  Fr. Dan Barron relates the maxim of his religious order to seminarians from St. John Vianney Theological Seminary as they prepare to make their annual retreat.  “Trust in God, he will show up!”

Six days into the new year, 44 seminarians from dioceses around the country packed their bags and headed up to Estes Park for the 5 day retreat.  “Retreats are an extremely important part of seminary formation. Both the Program for Priestly Formation and canon law call for seminarians to make a retreat every year of at least five days,” relates the Director of Spiritual Formation for SJV, Fr. Dan Barron, OMV.

“For the last two years, SJV has offered a personally directed, silent Ignatian retreat.”  The retreat is structured around two important communal hours of prayer: Mass and Eucharistic Adoration.  In addition, each seminarian prays three additional hours during the day. “The annual retreat is a time to ‘come away and rest a while’ with the Lord, so that the demands of ministry are kept in perspective, motives are purified, and the life of prayer renewed.”

In conjunction with the many hours a day they spend in prayer, seminarians also get a chance to speak with a priest one-on-one every day to aid in their discernment.  “The spiritual director meets with each seminarian daily to listen to what the Lord is doing and to assign the Scripture passages for meditation.”  This year, 7 priests from around the diocese in addition to Fr. Barron came to give spiritual direction.  Among them were Fr. Tom Cannon, OMV, and Msgr. Ken Leone, full-time spiritual directors at SJV.  Additionally, two other Oblates of the Virgin Mary (OMV) gave direction: Fr. Greg Cleveland, OMV and Fr. John Paul Klein, OMV.  Also on the directing staff were some old faces from the yearbooks of the seminary: Fr. Ryan O’Neill ’12, and Msgr. Michael Glenn, the former Rector of SJV.  And to round out the directing staff was Fr. John Lager, OFM Cap.


Seminarians receiving communion at the final retreat Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Chapel at St. Malo Retreat Center.

“The retreat is also an intensified moment of vocational discernment,” Fr. Barron reiterates.  Seminarians who enter the retreat are asked to consider God’s call for them in this life.   Are they truly being called to be a priest for Jesus Christ, or is God calling them to live a life of marriage, or even possibly a single life?  Seminarians are called to listen to the will of God for their lives, just like every one else!

If you think you’re being called to religious life, visit, and consider making a discernment retreat with the Archdiocese of Denver’s Office of Vocations.