MOSAIC Spring 2017 | Page 17

Out of the Sanctuary During the winter term, seminarians get training from the St. Paul Street Evangeliza- tion local center ( In the classroom through playacting, the seminarians learn the techniques of effec- tive person-to-person witnessing. Then it is real life application time. Father Vandenakker assigns teams of two or three men to local college cam- puses—Wayne State, Henry Ford, and U of M-Dearborn—to staff an information table under the sponsorship of the college’s Catholic Newman Center. “How can we pray for you?” is a typical way of entry as they try to connect with students who are strolling through the student union. The seminarians offer students rosaries and ba- sic information about the Catholic Faith. “Many of the seminarians say this is the most intimidating thing they have done,” Father Vandenakker says. “It stretches them out of their comfort zones.” Laughs Father, “As one seminarian said to me once: ‘I had not experienced this much rejection since the senior prom!’ Nonethe- less, they become more skilled at presenting the gospel message in a focused way. They get out of the safe sanctuary of the seminary and into the marketplace of competing ideas.” Second-year theologian Adam Nowak of the Archdiocese of Detroit says that practic- ing street evangelization has built up his confidence. “Evangelizing on a college campus can be quite intimidating at times, but as I have “Over time, I realized these differences that separated were, in many ways, superfi- cial; that the human condition is the same everywhere.” Alex recalls one frightful instance when teenage boy, sullen at first, suddenly opened up about having reoccurring dreams of be- ing “claimed” by demonic beings. This opening allowed Alex to lead the boy into prayers of deliverance and repentance, and the boy accepted Jesus into his life. “The Holy Spirit was present in a pow- erful way that day. I can rest assured that the Lord will direct his steps because that young man now belongs to Christ.” As part of their field education training, Adam Nowak, left, and Marcus Schonnop offer prayer, rosaries, and spiritual literature to Wayne State University students. become more comfortable with it, the Lord has made me bolder. I have prayed with many people from all faith backgrounds and spoken with people who do not prac- tice any faith at all. “It has been a real joy to share the love of Christ with others!” Closer to the Suffering Prior to completing the two field educa- tion courses in the new evangelization as second-year theologians, the Theology 1 men take Clinical Field Education, which trains them in the pastoral care of the suffer- ing. This curriculum involves tending to the spiritual needs of the sick, aged, and dying in a hospital, nursing home, or hospice set- ting. The seminarians learn how to talk and pray with people, bring Holy Communion to them if requested, and learn about the Sacra- ment of the Anointing of the Sick. Detroit seminarian Jahaunn McKenzie (Theology 1) has worked for the past two semesters at St. John Macomb-Warren Hos- pital in Warren and Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn. He says that hospital ministry “has been a great learning experience” for him and his brother seminarians. “I have come in contact with so many dif- ferent types of people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Yet, there is a communality that they all share as sick and suffering persons in the hospital, primarily wanting to leave the hospital! “Some patients I have encountered are believers while others are not, and some need encouragement—while others have encouraged me.” Jahaunn says that hospital ministry has showed him that, as a future priest, he must “come closer to Christ by coming closer to those who are sick and suffering.” He cites Pope Francis as “a model of this very witness.” Opened Eyes, Hearts As the new Field Education courses show, Sacred Heart continues to evolve its academic curriculum to form future priests who are modeled after the compassionate example of the Good Shepherd. They are being trained to meet the spiritual needs of a modern parish—while developing the self- confidence to be a presence of living faith in a post-Christian culture. “What the seminary is doing is very cre- ative,’ Father Vandenakker says, “and the seminarians have responded to it very well.” He says that having seminarians working in the field as new evangelists has “opened their eyes and opened their hearts” to the “drama of the human condition and the need everyone has for redemption in Christ.” At the same time, F ather cautions the men against pride, since “God is the primary agent of the new evangelization.” As such, success in the field does not de- pend on simply having an outgoing type-A personality, he says, only a willingness to step out in faith. “You just have to be a fool for Christ.” 15