Well, at least for this week. Thirty six seminarians, mostly from the Brooklyn diocese, but also from New York, Syracuse and from even as far away as Nigeria, Mexico, Colombia and Vietnam, are on retreat here this week.
They are fourth-year and pre-theologate students at Dunwoodie Seminary in Yonkers. Huntington, Douglaston and Dunwoodie consolidated their students last semester.
Besides bringing down the average age here at the Knoll considerably, the seminarians certainly bring energy, enthusiasm and renewed devotions to our hallowed halls. In addition to their talks and daily Mass in the Africa Room and St. Joseph Chapel, respectively, every evening at 7:30 they gather in Our Lady Chapel for Eucharistic adoration and benediction. I was certainly impressed to learn they didn't need prayer cards because they knew the hymns and prayers by heart. Daily devotion is the norm at Dunwoodie.
At meals, the seminarians mingle with the missioners, intrigued with our stories of evangelizing overseas. Our men, for their part, seem to come alive to have these guys around.
In another sense, the seminarians really lucked out coming here this week, since yesterday was our annual community Christmas/Epiphany party with solemn Mass (presided over by Yours Truly) and yet another wonderful meal by Sodexo, featuring prime rib, red and white wine, and special desserts: cannoli and bread pudding.
The men I spoke with seemed genuinely interested in our formation program that included overseas training, as well as our having an associate program for priests and brothers to serve overseas for a few years.
If these men return to Dunwoodie with a better sense of mission, then we all have benefitted from this week.