Postcards from the Class of 2015

May 27, 2015
  • RE2015 Orientation 1

May 18- May 22, 2015
by Hector Arvizu-Mancilla (Diocese of Tyler)

I want to take advantage of this means to humbly thank God’s people for their generosity and the prayers they always provide for priests and seminarians, but especially for their good will and generosity to provide the resources in order to make possible the Rome Experience for diocesan seminarians like me.

It is for me a great pleasure to share with all of you who have the opportunity to read this post, my spiritual Rome Experience which started at the very moment when I got to Chicago from Tyler, Texas.

All the seminarians who are participating in the Rome Experience are from many of the different dioceses across the U.S. and we all arrived and met at Chicago, O’Hare International Airport on May 18, 2015.

Once we gathered all together, we all got on a bus and started the departure for Mundelein Seminary. We were full of excitement, laughing and talking, but suddenly something unexpected happened. We stopped at a heavy traffic intersection waiting for the red light to turn green in order to go to the left. When the light turned green, the bus driver proceeded to make the left turn. We were in the middle of the intersection when the bus’ engine died, and we could not go forward nor backward, so, we were blocking all one way of the road, the two whole lines, so, we were blocking the traffic going towards east, and we were blocking the traffic behind us as well.

Everybody was ready to get off of the bus and start pushing it out of the way to one side of the road, but the driver did not allow us to do so. The driver made phone calls to the bus company asking for help. After trying to run the engine once again for several times, and without obtaining any engine response, the bus driver resolved just to wait for help to come, and remain in the middle of the road.

I resolved to pray a decade of the Rosary, begging our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary to intercede for us before God, and our Lord Jesus Christ to help the driver to resolve the problem with his bus.

I am sure our Lady made possible that God would listen to my prayers because as soon as I finished the doxology Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit and making the sign of the Cross the bus driver tried to run the engine one more time and “bingo!” the engine started running again. We were able to move and unblock the road, but what is more important, to continue on our way and get to Mundelein Seminary safely.

After this little incident with the bus, everything else was smooth once we got to the seminary. The stay there brought peace to my heart, but I certainly did not forget what God did for us through the intercession of Mary and our prayers. And I say our prayers because I am sure that I was not the only one praying in silence in order to ask God to help the driver; I think my other brother seminarians did the same thing. I thanked God again and again for his protection and love for us, especially for keeping us and the other drivers safe.

On Tuesday, May 19th, we were ready to depart for Europe. The trip from Chicago to Madrid was quite long—we left Chicago at 4:35pm and we got to Madrid at 8:00am on May 20th.

When we got to Madrid, Spain, everything seemed to be ok, except that we were a little behind on time, so we were in a hurry in order to get our next flight to Lyon, France. We walked fast; we took the train in order to make connections between terminals; but to our surprise we did not make it to the next flight. When we got to the gate the aircraft for Lyon had taken off already and we got to see through the terminal window how beautiful the airplane looked flying in the air without us on board.

Missing the flight to Lyon was a good thing because we got the opportunity to say the Rosary together at the airport, and we got a free meal as well. During the 8 hours that we waited for the next flight to Lyon, we walked through the airport and at times greeted and talked to people. We certainly caused an impression – 25 seminarians and priests together walking around the airport.

At around 3:00 in the afternoon, we were ready to take our next flight from Madrid to Lyon, France. The flight was a success. We got to Lyon at 5:45pm, got our baggage, got on the bus, and we departed for Ars.

Being in Ars is such a blessing for me, and I am sure it is a blessing for all the other seminarians. We are in the little French village where Saint John Mary Vianney, the Cure of Ars, spent his life as priest saving souls and bringing souls back to the Church and closer to God.

We are in the village where Saint John Mary Vianney spent 17 hours in the confessional hearing confessions. Here at Ars, Saint John Mary Vianney would become the patron saint of all the parish priests of the world. Here at Ars is where one of my favorite saints would spend his entire life as a priest and where he would die ministering to God’s people and seeking the salvation of their souls.

The next day, May 21st, after having had Morning Prayer and breakfast, we departed for Cluny, where the famous medieval Monastery of Cluny is located. It was once the biggest Benedictine monastery in the world.

On May 22nd, we went to Lyon to visit the great Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere—a beautiful and large Gothic structure. Below the basilica is the Chapel of Saint Joseph, which is a beautiful chapel as well.

Being at the Basilica is a wonderful and inspirational religious experience which made me feel closer to God and, of course, closer to our Lady.

When we finished our visit to the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere in Lyon, we got on the bus and returned to Ars where we had lunch. After lunch, we started to get ready physically and spiritually to start our five-day silent retreat.

The Rome Experience has been a wonderful journey so far. We started in Chicago with the little bus incident and then continued to Madrid, Spain where we missed our connecting flight, but there is something very good that comes from those uncomfortable incidents, and it is God’s presence in the midst of all of us. It does not matter what the situation is, God is always present pouring out his grace upon us in one way or another. After all, we have to thank God for all the graces that he pours upon us, and we humbly have to pray to God that he continues to provide the means for his people in order to support us with their prayers and their generosity.

May God bless all the people who have made possible for us to have this wonderful experience. I humbly thank them on behalf of all the other seminarians who are taking part of the Rome Experience. Please be assured of our prayers during this whole journey through France and Rome.