Open Wide The Door's to Christ

Father Ray 

The Office of Campus Ministry has adopted the theme, ‘Open Wide the Doors to Christ' to close the celebration of Jubilee Year 2000, which will end on Epiphany 2001. During this Advent season, we continue to walk with Pope John Paul II as the Church crosses the threshold of the new millennium (i.e., the year 2001) with a renewed understanding of the ministry of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Jubilee Year is observing the 2000th anniversary of the manifestation of God in the flesh.

God the Father sent His Eternal Son into the world to save us from sin, not to condemn us (cf. John 3:16). Our Lord provides the healing remedy to bind the wounds of alienation that exist between ourselves, God, and one another. Jesus has come to restore us to our true dignity as children of God. He has come to restore us to our original destiny which is to live in an eternal communion with our God that begins now. The Holy Spirit empowers the Church to continue this mission of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration.

Let us continue to open the doors of our lives to Christ. During the busy days ahead, we should take the time to pray. There are many opportunities for prayer scheduled at your home parishes and churches. Please take advantage of them.

Let us open the doors to those who may not have the ‘holiday spirit.’ We can rejoice in the spirit of these holy days by remembering the blessings that God continues to bestow upon us.

Let us open the doors to those who are alienated or inactive in regard to their Faith. We should not be a hindrance to their return to active Christian discipleship within the Church.

Let us open the doors to those who are in need of our assistance. Since God has blessed us, we have an opportunity to bless others.

Advent is a season of hope. Our God would not abandon the crown of His creation when sin and death entered the world. The love of God became flesh so that we can share in the very life of God. His love liberates us from anything that seeks to limit His children.

Let us pray for one another that this spirit of hope will enliven us during these final weeks of the Advent Season. On behalf of the Office of Campus Ministry and Community Service, I wish you a blessed Advent and Christmas season, as well as a safe and relaxing break.


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Meet The New Seminarians  

Martino Nguyen

Prisoner. Teacher. Believer. Martino has known since he was a young boy in Vietnam that he wanted to become a priest and to help spread God's word. In Vietnam when Martino was growing up, believing in God was far from accepted. Life began under harsh, almost unforgiving circumstances. Both Martino's parents were imprisoned before his birth as a result of working for the American government during the American/Vietnam War. Just weeks prior to his birth, the Vietnamese government released his mother's nearly lifeless body because they did not want the responsibility of disposing of her body upon her seemingly inevitable death. Certain that she would not survive, she wrote a letter to her husband, who remained in jail, stating that after years of praying to St. Martin de Porres, they finally were parents of a ___ . She left the line blank, fully expecting to die during childbirth. She did not. Shortly after his birth, Martino and his mother were forced to relocate to the South Vietnam border near Cambodia where they lived for years with his uncle and nine other children. Twice a year, they were permitted to visit his father in prison; however, they were not able to go even that often due to lack of money and the conditions of the four-day journey to the prison located on the other side of Vietnam. His father eventually was released when Martino was eleven years old.

Religion and faith were a major factor in Martino's life, with daily rosary and prayer twice a day. His was the only Catholic family in their village, and they would walk 20 miles in the forest to the closest town for Sunday Mass. Many times they would arrive to find a sign that read "No Mass. Priest Arrested." This, recalls Martino, was his first indication of a vocation.

Unfortunately, Martino soon felt the effects of the Vietnamese government and was arrested at the age of 14 in the middle of teaching a CCD class. He was arrested a total of four times, the worst time lasting four weeks, during which he was beaten for his belief in God. He explained to the men beating him, "I do not see God physically, but I feel him in my heart, and I love him." In 1993, the Nguyen family came to the United States under the sponsorship of the American government. With $49 in their pockets, they began their new life. While his parents both found employment, Martino studied business at the University of Wisconsin and, upon graduating, was offered a job. While attending college he knew it was time to listen to his calling and come home to God, but he felt obligated to take care of his parents. He told them he would work for seven years and follow his vocation later. With tears in his eyes his father said, "If I could look into God's face, I would say 'You gave Your only child for the world, and now I give You my only child to carry on Your work."' And with that he began his journey to the Mount.

When asked how he has endured all that life has dealt him, 24-year-old Martino beams and says, "God did it, not me."  

Paul Wierzbowski

Paul is one of our more seasoned seminarians for the fall of 2000. He brings knowledge of ‘the real world’ to the younger seminarians as well as a thirst for the teaching and knowledge of the Lord. His vocation director was apprehensive about the age gap, which sometimes spans almost 20 years, but he notes feeling included and welcome amongst his peers. "I have found the younger seminarians to be very mature for their age. We are together here on a journey [to which age] is irrelevant," stated Paul.

Paul studied music at the University of Texas, and has completed course work for a master’s degree in classical guitar. Several years ago, he was able to spend time in Poland under a student exchange program where he was able to explore the Catholic Church, as well as his love for music. He says music and religion have much in common, "Music is a unifying factor in church. It is an integral part of our worship, and I grow from both expressions."

Since arriving on the Mount campus, Paul feels his experiences have more than exceeded expectations. The rich history, dedication, and teachings of the priests who precede him have made the experience profound. Daily rosary walks, alone or shared with other seminarians, taking moments to reflect on the work of priests who are buried in the cemetery and the sight of the moon shining on the Campanile have reinforced what Paul and the other 38 new seminary men could only have speculated before coming to the Mount. "There is something magical here on this mountain," says Weirzbowski. "It is a very spiritual place. It feels like we have been given a piece of heaven here on earth."

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