Ave Maria Seminarian On Road to Priesthood

Published on Tuesday, 28 April 2009 12:13

Joseph Gates, the first and so far only seminarian from the town of Ave Maria, is finishing up his first year at the St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. He's one of 54 full-time seminarians at the institution, which serves the seven diioceses in the state of Florida.

three1Toward the conclusion of their first academic year, seminarians at St. Vincent de Paul make a profession of their intention to continue through the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for ordination. For Joseph, this took place on Divine Mercy Sunday. In the picture at right, Joseph (left) is with two of his classmates: Peter Dionne, a seminarian for the Diocese of Orlando, whose family is planning to move to Ae Maria; Richard Pagano, who graduated from AMU in 2008, a seminarian for the Diocese of St. Augustine.

All three will be heading to the Dominican Republic this summer as part of a six-week Spanish immersion program. "You spend about four hours a day in intensive Spanish classes," Joseph said, "and then later that day you spend about four hours working with the poor and destitute."

The program at St. Vincent de Paul is a total of five years. Joseph will be back in the classroom for his second year, and following that is what's called a pastoral year. "Here, the seminarian stays for a full year in a parish in his diocese and works with the priest and the church staff to see what it is like in the daily life of a priest," he said. It is after this year, Joseph said, that most men determine whether they are truly called to the vocation of the priesthood or not.

After the fourth year, seminarians are ordained as transitional deacons and take the summer to live at a parish and perform the duties of a deacon, which include reading the Gospel and preaching.

"It is a difficult life," Joseph said, "a life of many joys and blessings, but it's also challenging."

"Seminarians need constant prayer and support because it is difficult. And let us not forget that the devil works overtime on seminarians. So please remember to keep us in your prayers."



Left, Joseph Gates's class of seminarians after the Rite of Admission to Candidacy to the Priesthood.

Below, Josephs' brother Jimmy with Bishop Raymond Lessard, a member of the seminary's faculty.

(All photos by Kim Gates)