Reflections on discernment and seminary
by Taylor Ternes
When I first considered seminary, I had some fears about giving my life over completely to the Lord. Could I do it? Would the Lord provide? Would I be happy? Despite the hesitations, the call to the seminary didn’t let up. Providentially, as I continued to pray about a possibility to a priestly vocation, my worries slowly faded to the shadows.
One of the key moments in my discernment came at the Vianney Discernment Weekend hosted by the Vocations Office for young men discerning the priesthood. It was at this retreat that I truly realized and accepted my calling to the seminary.
I can specifically remember one holy hour on the retreat. We learned how to pray using Lectio Divina earlier that day, so I decided to give it a shot during adoration. I remember the verse I meditated on was Matthew 4:19-20. This particular passage concerns the calling of the twelve. It reads, “And he said to them: ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ And at once, leaving behind their nets, they followed Him.”
The words “follow me,” and the immediacy of the disciples leaving their nets resonated with me for the remainder of the retreat. This, along with other assurances, helped confirm my decision to enter seminary. Later that year, I asked the vocations director for a seminarian application.
After turning it in, I felt confident I had made the correct decision. Bishop Folda accepted my application and chose to send me to St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Neb. I was extremely excited about studying in Nebraska because the culture is very similar to North Dakota. The seminary itself is in a small town that closely resembles my hometown, Devils Lake.
A lot of people ask me, “Was seminary everything you thought it would be?” The simple answer is no… it’s more than anything I ever thought it could be.
One of the things that shocked me the most was the strong fraternal bonds I formed with other seminarians. Coming from a public high school, bonding with others over the faith was extremely difficult. Being in the same place with 56 other men who hold the same beliefs I do has been really fulfilling. These are friendships that will last a lifetime. No matter where we will end up in the world, we will always have each other.
The daily schedule for the seminary consists of Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer along with Mass, and classes. Some days can be busy, but other days you have a lot of free time to read, pray, or just hang out. The seminary has a perfect balance of good formation, with enough time to enjoy life and have fun with the other seminarians.
My first year in seminary was truly a blessing. As in everything, there are days you just want to forget. However, the majority of days are good ones. I have learned so much about my faith and so much about myself.
Thank you to everyone, who is praying for me each and every day:. Bishop Folda, the priests, deacons, and people of the Diocese of Fargo are in my daily prayers.
Lastly, for all those who are on the fence about seminary, come get in the battle! Into the breach! When you enter seminary, it is always win-win. If you discover God is calling you down another path, that doesn’t mean the time you spent in seminary was wasted. The only thing you are risking when you enter seminary is becoming a better man and loving Jesus more.
Ternes is a College I seminarian studying at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Neb.
Editor’s Note: Seminarian Life is a column written by current Diocese of Fargo seminarians. Please continue to pray for them.