In the early evening yesterday, we met Father Jeff Burill, and seminarian Ed Maxfield at the fountain in Saint Peter’s Square. They led us up the steep Janiculum hill via the multi-level interior parking garage to our destination – the North American College.
For the past 150 years this institution has educated candidates for the priesthood from the United States. Today NAC has two-hundred men studying for the priesthood and gaining graduate degrees in the various pontifical universities around Rome. The grounds and structures at the NAC are impressive but more so were the seminarians who greeted us.
In a briefing about the college, the seminarians gave us a glimpse into their individual journey toward priestly ministry — one had been a professional engineer, another was a conservatory-trained musican, an accomplished drummer in a rock band.
Deacon Jon Bakkelund who will be ordained in May told us: “The cool thing about being a priest is that you know exactly what you are going to do for the rest of your life. And, at the same time, you don’t exactly know what you are going to do for the rest of your life.”
We accompanied the community of seminarians into the massive chapel for vespers. With heart and voice, we joined the congregation in singing the “Maria Redemptoris,” a reminder that each person has a calling – from God.
Father Mike R