As another step in their journey toward the priesthood, seven students of Saint Mary Seminary were instituted into the ministry of lector by Bishop Nelson Perez during a Mass on Oct. 11 in Resurrection Chapel at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe, where the seminary is located.
Three of the new lectors are from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland: David Chojnacki, St. Mary Parish, Hudson; Dominic Gideon, Communion of Saints, Cleveland Heights; and Christopher Stein, Immaculate Conception, Madison.
Three are from the Diocese of Youngstown: Garrett Guerrieri, St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Boardman; John Rovnak, Our Lady of Sorrows, Youngstown; and Frederick Schlueter, St. Paul, Salem.
The seventh student, Jaehyun Ryu, is from the Archdiocese of Daegu, South Korea.
The Youngstown Diocese and Daegu Archdiocese have agreements with the Cleveland Diocese to accept, educate and form their seminarians for the priesthood.
“There is the word and there is the Word,” Bishop Perez told the seminarians and others at the liturgy. He told the new lectors that they were here because they have an encounter with the Word – the Lord.
“I had an encounter, too,” he told them, recalling how he struggled with some issues during his discernment for the priesthood. “But one day I heard the Lord say five words to me: ‘I’m not accountable to you,’” he said.
“Tonight, you’re becoming ministers of the word. There will be ways in which the Word is shown through you,” the bishop said, referring to how the seminarians would reflect Christ.
He said there are words that describe people like happy, grumpy and sad. “In some ways, the way you share the Word becomes a word. God’s word is filled with power. The prophets said God’s Word will come down to earth and it will not return until it does what it said it would,” he said, referring to Christ as the savior of mankind.
“You’re about to become ministers of that word. You don’t know when or where it will be heard through you. Sometimes you hear the word and it pierces your heart,” the bishop said.
He shared some reflections of Pope Francis, noting that he is calling us to reflect more intently on the word of God. In fact, he recently announced that the Church would observe the Sunday of the Word of God. He said the pope called the Bible the syllabus of life, noting that in it God provided us with guidance on how to live a holy life.
“As a teacher, the first thing I gave my students was a syllabus,” Bishop Perez said. He told the new lectors that they are becoming instruments of the Lord as they share his word and follow his syllabus. God tells us what we need to do to live good, holy lives, the bishop said.
“When we hear the word of God, what happens in our heart if we pay attention?” he asked. “Will I let it touch my heart?” He said sometimes we let it go in one ear and out the other.
However, when we allow God’s word to touch our hearts, “it moves us and fills us with tears of joy.”
The ministry of lector institutes those who are properly prepared to proclaim the Scripture readings before the Gospel at liturgical celebrations, to offer the petitions of the general intercessions, to instruct other faithful who by a temporary appointment are asked to proclaim the Scripture readings in liturgical celebrations and to help the rest of the community grow in its knowledge and appreciation of the Scriptures.
For more information on Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology, click HERE.