Notre Dame Seminary

The Theme: Apostolic Community

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 10.31.59 AMWritten by: Seminarian David Frank (Notre Dame Seminary)

At Notre Dame Seminary, our rector, Fr. Jim Wehner, frequently refers to us as an “apostolic community.” A lot of meaning is packed into those two words.

As an apostolic community, all of us seminarians have walked away from our former lives to follow Christ as the apostles did, because we have sensed Him calling us, however quietly, to live like Him in a more radical way. We come from diverse backgrounds: some have lived our whole lives here in New Orleans, while others come from faraway places like Vietnam, Uganda, and Houma-Thibodaux. Some of us have just graduated from college; others have already had successful careers, which they have given up to discern whether Christ wants something more for them.

We do not discern on our own; we discern with the Church and within this community, with our bishops and the seminary formation staff, to learn whether Christ is calling us to be His priests and what that means for our lives. In this we form a true brotherhood of apostles for Christ, seeking to know, love, and serve Him in His Church in whatever way He asks of us.

15575826242_122b0bea8e_zIn sharing this journey of discernment, we have an incredible opportunity to form true friendships. We have many occasions for joy, as we enjoy the friendly competition of sports, relax at our social events, and share the various milestones we reach on the road toward priesthood. Even (perhaps especially) in times of suffering, we build each other up, united in our hope and joy in the Lord. Nothing is more joyful than participating side by side in the mission of the Church, whether in prayer, liturgy, studies, or service to the needy and vulnerable. Of course, like the apostles, we are a community with diverse personalities, perspectives, and cultural heritages. As Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpens iron; so one man sharpens another.” In apostolic community, we learn to put each other’s needs before our own, preparing us for a life of selflessness and sacrifice, of humility and joy-filled charity as pastors of the Lord’s flock.

Together we begin to learn to lay down our lives for Christ and the Church as the apostles did—not to remake the Church in our own fallen and imperfect image, but to be witnesses and images of Jesus Christ to all people. We learn to be more conformed to Him so that we can bring others into the joy of close friendship with Him who unites us in apostolic community. We learn to proclaim the One we have met. We cannot keep Him to ourselves. That is what it means to be an apostle.