Brendan McAleer, a senior at Old College, sends us our report from Old College for this month. But as you will find out, it is a post that comes from a lot further away …
This past semester I had the great opportunity to study abroad at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. It has been the tradition of Old College to send men in their third year to study abroad. For the past six years we have been residing at The American College of the Immaculate Conception, a diocesan seminary run by the USCCB. Of course, besides our studies, we had the opportunity to travel, including spending Christmas in Rome! We were able to attend Vespers and Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s and had plenty of free time to explore The Seven Hills.
One of the most beneficial parts of my experience abroad was to live with and acquaint myself with members of the global church. At Leuven, we lived and became friends with seminarians not only from all across the United States, but from all around the world, including England, Hungry, Nigeria, China, Czech Republic.
Living with seminarians preparing for diocesan life was very insightful and made me appreciate them, but also made me proud of my family in Holy Cross. We are so blessed to live here at Notre Dame, and at times it is easy to take our life here for granted. However, in seeing the struggles the church is having in Europe and the sheer diversity that exists in the Catholicism, I have come to a deeper appreciation of Holy Cross. A religious order that is involved in the missions and which has locations all over the world like Holy Cross is bound to look at the world through the lens of these experiences. There is a wisdom that comes from travel and serving the church in many different cultures. These interactions and the history that Holy Cross has had make the charism and spirituality of Holy Cross unique.
As I reflect on my time abroad I realize how blessed I was to have this experience. Now that I am back in Old College, I see my time abroad as a great step in the plan which Holy Cross has for its formation process. I am one more step closer to joining this great band of men who are scattered all over the world, fulfilling their apostolate with zeal for Christ. I pray that if it is God’s will, I join them on their way.