There is an art to bringing the sacraments to the faithful. A transcendent Mass or a compassionate reconciliation will move the soul. It is so important that a priest offers these well, and yet it is not as simple as it may seem!
At Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, our goal is to teach seminarians how to perform the sacraments both correctly and pastorally. Director of Liturgical Formation Fr. Brad Krawczyk explains, “There are requirements the Church expects to be met, but these should be done with a spirit of reverence and hospitality.”
The first step is to learn the principles behind what a priest does, including the eternal meaning of each rite. “The beauty of the sacraments taps into the beauty of God himself,” says Fr. Brad. “This living out of the sacraments is participating in the Divine Life.”
Once the theology is understood, the men practice, practice, practice! Seminarians have lessons for every sacrament and sacramental, including how to do blessings and lead devotions. They are learning professional skills that are not just technical but artistic. They are expected to be sensitive to the tradition and useful to the contemporary needs of the Church. Their focus: “Is what we are doing honoring both God and the people we serve?”
Ariel Orozco (Milwaukee) appreciates how Fr. Brad teaches. “He walks us through each liturgy, and then we do it physically, which is very helpful.” The formation is integrated throughout all stages, building on itself. Seminarians who are not yet ordained are shown how to serve reverently at the altar, lector, and do communion calls for the homebound. Once ordained transitional deacons, they get real experience proclaiming the Gospel, offering baptisms, benediction, and burials.
Preparation for the priesthood itself includes hours of practice saying Mass, hearing confessions, and performing weddings and funerals. Care is taken to make it as effective as possible. Experienced priests are brought in to be penitents for the would-be confessors, and a woman from our staff even stands in as a bride when practicing weddings. The goal is to prepare our seminarians to do the sacred rites well in diverse situations, guiding others into prayer with ease.
We have increased the emphasis on liturgical formation at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, so that your priests will be able to lead you into the Divine Life. They long to bring Jesus Christ to you through the sacraments. Please help them do so. Please pray for them and for all priests. And please support these men with a financial contribution.
Because of your past support, Wisconsin will have four new priests and eight new transitional deacons this year. These 12 men will bring the sacraments to thousands of people in 2021 alone. Help us to continue this sacred mission for all of the years that follow. Thank you.
Grace and peace,
Father John Hemsing
Fr. Brad Krawczyk's liturgical formation classes stress knowing what the Church expects in each liturgy and knowing how to apply that in a pastorally rich way.
Liturgical formation also includes being well-versed in the robust musical tradition of the Church. Dr. Agnieszka Kosmecka holds the men to a high standard.
Deacon Michael Lawinger (Milwaukee) makes incensing with a four-chain thurible look effortless, but it takes practice!
Beautiful, large-scale devotions do not just happen! This practice...
...leads to this magnificent Eucharistic Procession.