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A Day in the Life of a Seminarian: Finding Joy in Community

As the sun begins to rise over Seton Hall’s quiet campus in South Orange, New Jersey, Deacon Andrew Rubinich begins his day at Immaculate Conception Seminary. He puts on his Roman collar and heads to chapel for Morning Prayer and Holy Mass. A seminarian’s day pulses with prayer. "We pray the Liturgy of the Hours at several points throughout the day, and that’s core to our prayer life," says Rubinich, a New Jersey native.

The Seminary’s new video, Insights: A Day in the Life of a Seminarian, follows three transitional deacons through a typical day, giving viewers an inside look into the journey of priestly formation. At ICSST, the spiritual life of a seminary is joined with the intellectual life of academia. Here, seminarians discover the gift of a rich and holistic formation—spiritual, human, intellectual and pastoral. Developed as part of the 4:12 Pathway for Pastoral Leadership, the video shows how ICSST builds a culture of discernment, encouragement and accompaniment that directly impacts the seminarians, the diocese and the community.

Deacon Sebastian Muñoz, Colombia

Deacon Sebastian Muñoz, Colombia

After Morning Prayer and breakfast, the seminarians continue their day attending classes. In between, they may find themselves studying, engaging in conversation with fellow seminarians on walks, grabbing a cup of coffee at Dunkin or Starbucks or exercising at the gym on campus. Hailing from Columbia, Deacon Sebastian Muñoz recalls his early days on campus, saying: "I felt at home. It was the rector and formators who welcomed me to ICSST, and since that moment I have felt at home."

Deacon Peter Phan, Vietnam

Deacon Peter Phan, Vietnam

Breaks during the day afford seminarians opportunities to embrace peace and solitude before they return to their daily schedule. In Insights, Deacon Peter Phan, who came to the U.S. from Vietnam, recalls the day he arrived on campus. He was moved by the statue of Our Lady as well as the welcoming presence of everyone he met. Phan says that he knew right away that he was home. "I belong here," he said. The statue graces the Seminary’s private courtyard with a quiet beauty, and it’s here that Phan welcomes the peace that can only come from quiet contemplation in God’s creation.

ICSST’s faithful seminarians know the grace and strength they receive by staying close to Mary in their formation journeys. "Our Lady becomes our strength when we are in formation." Deacon Sebastian Muñoz explains. "This is why I love the name of this seminary. I have a great devotion to Our Lady."

The seminarian life at ICSST is built on a foundation of community. Men from around the world are challenged by the rigor of its academic formation and also benefit from the fellowship and family-like environment of the School of Theology, which they find extends onto the Seton Hall campus. From prayer to meals, life becomes a journey shared with others.

"The integration of spiritual formation with academic rigor is the cornerstone of our seminary’s mission, guiding our students towards a holistic understanding of their vocation," noted Monsignor Gerard McCarren, S.T.D., rector and dean at ICSST. "Formation extends beyond the classroom, encompassing every facet of a seminarian’s life—human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral, which is the foundation of the experience we look to provide each seminarian candidate in our community."

As the day winds down, the seminarians share in Evening Prayer, Eucharistic Exposition and Night Prayer. "We begin the day with the Lord and finish our day with Him," Muñoz says.

Reverend Monsignor Joseph Reilly, S.T.L. Ph.D., the incoming president of Seton Hall, explains the value of place, bringing seminary formation together with university life. Reilly, who currently serves as Vice Provost for Academics and Catholic Identity, notes that at ICSST, seminarians "discover the passion that the Lord has invited them to embrace in their lives."

Deacon Andrew Rubinich, New Jersey

Deacon Andrew Rubinich, New Jersey

Perhaps what is unspoken in Insights reveals the most. The joy-filled smiles that radiate from the seminarians express the peace that comes from embracing God’s call and embarking on a journey marked by prayer and passion as well as study and service. As Rubinich puts it, "This campus is a special place for me. It’s home. I feel safe here. I feel loved here. I feel like I’m doing what God is calling me to do here and now."

Categories: Faith and Service

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