Sunday we started what will be a new tradition in Piqua: hosting a summer cook-out for seminarians.
It started with a conversation over supper, earlier this year, with a couple other priests and several seminarians; I don't even remember where we were--but the point was made that seminarians don't see a lot of each other over the summer. Then someone else said, what if we had a summer cookout? And somewhere along the line I said, "we could do that in Piqua..." and then I asked the seminarian staying with us in Piqua to spread the word...and then it happened.
We had about 20 guys, most came up from Cincinnati, but a few came from up north. We could easily have more if things work out next year. Afterward, we talked about what we could do to encourage more prospective seminarians to come along.
It was easy: burgers, brats, cole slaw, pop, beer, watermelon, ice cream. A parishioner donated a couple of cheesecakes, so we barely touched the melons and never got to the ice cream. Once most everyone showed up, we went over to church and prayed Vespers, then we came back over to the rectory and had pop, beer, pretzels and then the stuff came off the grill. The whole thing cost about $200, and another priest of the archdiocese chipped in half.
I wish you could have met these guys. Their ages were all over the map, but mostly in their 20s and 30s. The kind of guys I think you'd be happy to have your daughters going out with--if they weren't headed to the seminary. I remember when priests were good to me as a seminarian, and I'm very glad to do the same in turn.
Please keep praying for more priests, and please don't hesitate to give encouragement to any men you meet you think might make a good priest or deacon. Some guys just need someone to tell them, "you could be a good priest!"