The Summer Seminary Immersion Program (SSIP) 2016 at Old College Undergraduate Seminary was a success! I think I can speak for the whole staff and the Vocations Office when I say that we are all proud of how it went. We had twelve high-schoolers representing every type of personality, and they all put their heart and soul into the Theology of the Priesthood class taught by Fr. Kevin Grove, C.S.C. They all came to learn more about religious life, but also seminary in general. My role was to be, basically, the big brother. It was a great two weeks!
I just completed my freshman year at Old College and Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C. (Director of Old College) told me that I did “okay,” or good but with room for improvement! I learned a lot, but if I learned anything from this past year it is to do what you need to get done right away so that you do not put if off and fall behind. Whether it was cleaning, homework, or whatever, starting right away helps you to stay on task. This skill was put to the test during SSIP. The goal of SSIP is to get the students immersed into a seminary schedule that involves prayer, lectures, homework, and community life. On top of this, the men were also given chores--“obediences”--to help keep the house clean. I was the experienced seminarian in the house to help answer questions, to make sure they were doing their homework, to get them to the right buildings for class, etc. It was a lot fun, but I had to make sure that all the men were staying on task and doing what they were supposed to be doing.
In high school, I had always gone to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp for about two weeks to play trombone. We stayed in cabins when we were there, and there was always a counselor in the cabin with us. It dawned on me when I arrived in late June for SSIP that I would have to assume this role as a counselor. Fr. Jarrod Waugh, C.S.C., the Director of SSIP, and I worked together to make sure that everything was running smoothly. It was time for me to use the past examples of my Blue Lake counselors and the knowledge of the Holy Cross religious around me to be the best example for these young men I could be. In the evenings, the students would love to relax and watch Netflix or play other games together. The community and friendship that these young men formed during their time at Old College was something that I miss from the regular school year. Listening to them speak about their school work, hobbies, family lives, and friends back home was always one of my favorite things to do while sitting on the couch in the lounge after long days of class. They all were extremely talented people, and it was so great to get to know them and share with them my past year at Old College.
The Summer Seminary Immersion Program 2016 was a success! We hope that it helped these young men discern whether they should enter seminary or not, but it is all in God’s hands. I pray for the young men that were here for the program, and for all those who made it possible!
Mr. Hunter Ostapowicz will be a sophomore this fall at the Old College undergraduate seminary on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Hunter and his brother seminarians often share their thoughts and reflections through the Spes Unica Blog published by the Holy Cross Office of Vocations. Hunter is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan.