By Jennifer Mauro | Associate Editor
The Year of Mercy may have come to a close Nov. 20, but Father Daniel Swift is hoping one of the programs that stemmed from the Jubilee continues in the months ahead.
As part of the parish’s “100 Days to Discipleship,” Father Swift, pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, recently took six boys to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., for a day of fun, food, prayer and to learn about the seminarians and how they live.
Father Swift said the priesthood was like any profession children may want to pursue when they are young – whether as a firefighter, policeman or athlete, often all they see is a uniform.
“They don’t know the first thing about it [being a priest] besides what they see. So let’s spend a day at a school where men learn to be priests,” he said.
The boys, all parishioners in grades four through 12, spent the day getting to know the seminarians. They took a tour of the seminary, watched the movie “Fishers of Men,” dined together and prayed during Vespers. There was even a friendly basketball game during the afternoon.
Luke Denn, 12, said he found the trip eye-opening. “I learned about Vespers and that it was relaxing,” he said. “I was surprised to realize that the seminarians are happy, content and fun. They all had bright faces.”
Eamonn Walton, 14, said he was interested in the trip because his uncle, Jesuit Father Dermot Preston, who serves as provincial for the Jesuit community in England, and Father Swift have influenced his life. “So I wanted to learn more about the seminarians and becoming a priest.”
Father Swift said learning about the priesthood was one of his goals for the trip.
“I think we all need to be more proactive in asking our boys to become priests,” he said. “I didn’t know I wanted to be a priest when I was a boy, but if there was something like this when I was a kid, I would’ve went.
“I just want the boys to be open to whatever God wants,” he added.
That thought was echoed by Denn, who said, “I would say go even if you don’t think you will become a priest. It might fulfill some kind of calling.”
With such positive response, Father Swift wants to plan another seminary visit next year with boys from all of the Diocese’s 107 parishes. “Even if only half of the parishes responded, and each brought five boys, that’s still around 250 boys,” he said.
Walton said he would definitely go again if another trip is planned. “I would tell the boys who want to go that the trip is a very educational and fun day,” he said.