While walking back from lunch on South Campus one Wednesday afternoon, I heard a friend of mine call my name. As I turned to see who it was, the crosswalk light switched to white. He and another student ran, only looking back over his shoulder to proclaim, “We have a pope!”
After spending some time in the Anderson Student Center, I walked outside to hear cheers and shouts of joy from the Upper Quad.
About an hour later, I literally ran from the library to the St. John Vianney Seminary. My ears were filled with some of the loudest hooting and hollering I’ve ever heard at St. Thomas. Friend after friend running up to me with a hug, all the while yelling, “We have a pope!”
These men of SJV, these undergraduate students at St. Thomas, are a crucial part of our community for some of these reasons:
1. They are the biggest fans of St. Thomas. Men at SJV must attend at least three football games per year, but many go to almost every game. They even go to some basketball games, which for some included driving to Virginia for the men’s team’s Elite Eight game.
Some seminarians proudly represent Caruso’s Crew. Each helmet has a specific name and corresponding facial-hair style. That way from game-to-game, year-to-year, the crew remains the same, just with a different man under the helmet.
2. They are some of the most polite people. It’s the little things in life that people do which brings the most joy. So waiting a good 10 seconds for someone to enter a door while they wait in the cold holding it open is a small act but a great gesture.
3. While these men bring wisdom and insight to St. Thomas, they also bring so much love: a love for each day and for this community. That’s something we should learn. The love flowed through loud cheering and rejoicing on campus the day that Pope Francis was elected.
It’s so easy for me to forget that most of these men are around our age. They too went through the fun of elementary school, the awkwardness of middle school and the stress of high school.
When they enter college, they’re still trying to figure it all out just like everyone else. They’re discerning the priesthood, and they are trying to prepare for their lives by doing what they feel they’ve been called to.
But wait, isn’t that what we undergrads are doing, too? Sure, ours aren’t exactly as “job specific,” but we have the same goal: to impact our communities in a positive way, thanks to our educational experience.
Not only is the process of discernment a path to their vocation, but being in the seminary provides incredible formation for these men. They begin to live and learn as brothers in Christ, which is what Jesus called his disciples, and thus all of us, to do.
Like all college students, we’re not perfect. They aren’t either. They’re humans too. They are humans doing their best to try and do what they feel the Lord is calling them to do with their lives.
These men’s devotions to prayer and commitment to St. Thomas helps us all to thrive as well. No matter our spirituality, we can all learn from one another.
Caroline Rode can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.