I flew to Izmir last week to attend his latest court hearing.
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I spent some time walking around the city on Thursday, and felt burdened and impressed to pray. Yes, let us speak to God about our concerns, because he is near and wants to hear them.
While the experience was incredibly stressful and taxing for him, Pastor Brunson stood strong in prison. Locked in jail for two years, at times in solitary confinement, he spent hours each day in prayer. What else could he do? When Pastor Brunson looked back at the viewing gallery during his day in court, he was encouraged to see his supporters praying for him. Despite being falsely maligned in Turkey, he bore no ill will towards its people.
On the contrary, he proclaimed his love for them. I love Turkey. Being present for those facing opposition encourages them — and it engages us. When Pastor Brunson looked back at the viewing gallery during his day in court, he was encouraged to see his supporters staring back, and praying for him.
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In prison for two years, isolated in a foreign country, he was very concerned about being forgotten by fellow Christians. Yet in addition to encouraging him, going there to stand with him made me more invested in his situation. My emotions were engaged as I saw and realized what had happened to him, in a way I could not have understood just by reading about it from a distance. Not everyone will be able to make such a trip, but we should all consider how to be there for those we know are suffering if given the opportunity.
Then we jumped in the van and proceeded to our next destination. We arrived at the community of Parkvue in Sandusky, Ohio, shortly after dark. Pastor Bill Michaels and his family greeted us. They escorted us to the chapel where we would be sleeping on the floor for the night. Then to the activity room where we would watch TV and in the morning enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet. That evening we gave thanks for a dry, warm place to rest even if the floor was a little hard.
The morning sun greeted us and after breakfast we worked on a project for confirmation day. One symbol also represents the personal gift that we bring to God. Quintin enjoyed making the frogs jump on the Octaband. Little did I know that the seminary community would grow on me and I would learn to love it!
The brotherhoods formed at the seminary are ones that I was used to from high school and ones that are aimed at the same objective, to one day be able to serve Christ and His Church as a Roman Catholic Priest. Yes, getting used to the schedule of things was at first hard but manageable. This fall, I will be entering my third year at the seminary to continue my formation to be a Roman Catholic Priest and to be formed after the heart of Christ.
Seminary life is one that takes a lot of balance in spiritual, pastoral, academic, and most importantly human formation. Joe, Rolly, and Jim, to the staff and personnel of Holy Trinity for accommodating me in this summer assignment. I know I will enjoy and learn in this experience and I hope sincerely that I will be allowed to come back whether it be on another summer assignment or God-willing as a priest.
Please keep me in your prayers, as this parish will be in mine.
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I close with a reflection on priests and those who aspire to be future priests by Fr. Henri Lacordaire, OP:.
To live in the midst of the world without wishing its pleasures; to be a member of each family, yet belonging to none; to share all sufferings; to penetrate all secrets; to heal all wounds; to go from men to God and offer Him their prayers; to return from God to men to bring pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity; to teach and to pardon; console and bless always. And it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ.
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