Seminarians of the Diocese of Trenton attend Mass in San Alfonso Retreat House, celebrated by Redemptorist Father Kevin O’Neil and concelebrant Msgr. Thomas J. Mullelly, during their June 14-18 retreat. Mike Ehrmann photos
Seminarians of the Diocese of Trenton attend Mass in San Alfonso Retreat House, celebrated by Redemptorist Father Kevin O’Neil and concelebrant Msgr. Thomas J. Mullelly, during their June 14-18 retreat. Mike Ehrmann photos
The annual Seminarians Retreat for the Diocese of Trenton, held June 14-18 in San Alfonso Retreat House, Long Branch, was a time of reflection and respite for the some 13 seminarians who attended.

“A retreat is a special time to step back from studies and ministry in order to be with the Lord,” said retreat director, Redemptorist Father Kevin O’Neil, who has been ministering at San Alfonso Retreat House since 2013. “The overall theme of the retreat was simply the Gospel passage from Mark 3:14: ‘He called them to be with him.’ It is a reference to Jesus calling the disciples to be with him before he sent them out on mission.”

PHOTO GALLERY: 2021 Diocese's seminarians attend retreat

The week comprised eight conferences given in the mornings and evenings, with topics including “The Call to Holiness: Our Fundamental Vocation,” “Humility: A Virtue for Formation,” “Mary and Joseph: Models of Vocation and Humility,” “Nurturing your Vocation through the Eucharist” and more. Msgr. Thomas J. Mullelly, diocesan vicar for clergy and consecrated life and director of seminarians, was also present for the retreat.

“The first talk emphasized the call to holiness because no matter where they would end up eventually, they were all called to holiness,” Father O’Neil explained. “The other talks touched on important aspects of their formation; encouraging them to a deep personal prayer life centered around the Word of God and the Eucharist, in particular.”

Father O’Neil also emphasized that while the retreat was obviously part of their spiritual formation, the other three pillars of formation – human, academic and pastoral – “flow from the spiritual in that their understanding  of and relationship with God affects and shapes their understanding of themselves, as well as affecting their academic studies and pastoral practice.”

Encouraging the seminarians to nurture qualities for the priesthood, Father O’Neil urged the young men “to be men of prayer who are close to the people; men who see the priesthood as being set apart for service, not for privilege,” and advised them “to be preachers always of the heart of the Gospel, of God’s love for us shown in the person of Jesus Christ.”

He hoped that upon finishing the retreat, the participants came away with “a deeper sense of God’s unconditional love for them, and that the call to holiness and to the priesthood, in particular, is a call to live in the midst of the people as the Incarnate Jesus did, and to serve them with all that they have.”