Wide The Door's to Christ
The Office of Campus Ministry has adopted the theme, Open
Wide the Doors to Christ' to close the celebration of Jubilee Year 2000, which will end on
Epiphany 2001. During this Advent season, we continue to walk with Pope John Paul II as
the Church crosses the threshold of the new millennium (i.e., the year 2001) with a
renewed understanding of the ministry of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The
Jubilee Year is observing the 2000th anniversary of the manifestation of God in the flesh.
God the Father sent His Eternal Son into the world to save us from
sin, not to condemn us (cf. John 3:16). Our Lord provides the healing remedy to bind the
wounds of alienation that exist between ourselves, God, and one another. Jesus has come to
restore us to our true dignity as children of God. He has come to restore us to our
original destiny which is to live in an eternal communion with our God that begins now.
The Holy Spirit empowers the Church to continue this mission of redemption,
reconciliation, and restoration.
Let us continue to open the doors of our lives to Christ. During
the busy days ahead, we should take the time to pray. There are many opportunities for
prayer scheduled at your home parishes and churches. Please take advantage of them.
Let us open the doors to those who may not have the holiday
spirit. We can rejoice in the spirit of these holy days by remembering the blessings
that God continues to bestow upon us.
Let us open the doors to those who are alienated or inactive in
regard to their Faith. We should not be a hindrance to their return to active Christian
discipleship within the Church.
Let us open the doors to those who are in need of our assistance.
Since God has blessed us, we have an opportunity to bless others.
Advent is a season of hope. Our God would not abandon the crown of
His creation when sin and death entered the world. The love of God became flesh so that we
can share in the very life of God. His love liberates us from anything that seeks to limit
Let us pray for one another that this spirit of hope will enliven
us during these final weeks of the Advent Season. On behalf of the Office of Campus
Ministry and Community Service, I wish you a blessed Advent and Christmas season, as well
as a safe and relaxing break.
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The New Seminarians
Prisoner. Teacher. Believer. Martino has known since he was a
young boy in Vietnam that he wanted to become a priest and to help spread God's word. In
Vietnam when Martino was growing up, believing in God was far from accepted. Life began
under harsh, almost unforgiving circumstances. Both Martino's parents were imprisoned
before his birth as a result of working for the American government during the
American/Vietnam War. Just weeks prior to his birth, the Vietnamese government released
his mother's nearly lifeless body because they did not want the responsibility of
disposing of her body upon her seemingly inevitable death. Certain that she would not
survive, she wrote a letter to her husband, who remained in jail, stating that after years
of praying to St. Martin de Porres, they finally were parents of a ___ . She left the line
blank, fully expecting to die during childbirth. She did not. Shortly after his birth,
Martino and his mother were forced to relocate to the South Vietnam border near Cambodia
where they lived for years with his uncle and nine other children. Twice a year, they were
permitted to visit his father in prison; however, they were not able to go even that often
due to lack of money and the conditions of the four-day journey to the prison located on
the other side of Vietnam. His father eventually was released when Martino was eleven
Religion and faith were a major factor in Martino's life, with
daily rosary and prayer twice a day. His was the only Catholic family in their village,
and they would walk 20 miles in the forest to the closest town for Sunday Mass. Many times
they would arrive to find a sign that read "No Mass. Priest Arrested." This,
recalls Martino, was his first indication of a vocation.
Unfortunately, Martino soon felt the effects of the Vietnamese
government and was arrested at the age of 14 in the middle of teaching a CCD class. He was
arrested a total of four times, the worst time lasting four weeks, during which he was
beaten for his belief in God. He explained to the men beating him, "I do not see God
physically, but I feel him in my heart, and I love him." In 1993, the Nguyen family
came to the United States under the sponsorship of the American government. With $49 in
their pockets, they began their new life. While his parents both found employment, Martino
studied business at the University of Wisconsin and, upon graduating, was offered a job.
While attending college he knew it was time to listen to his calling and come home to God,
but he felt obligated to take care of his parents. He told them he would work for seven
years and follow his vocation later. With tears in his eyes his father said, "If I
could look into God's face, I would say 'You gave Your only child for the world, and now I
give You my only child to carry on Your work."' And with that he began his journey to
When asked how he has endured all that life has dealt him,
24-year-old Martino beams and says, "God did it, not me."
Paul is one of our more seasoned seminarians for the fall of 2000.
He brings knowledge of the real world to the younger seminarians as well as a
thirst for the teaching and knowledge of the Lord. His vocation director was apprehensive
about the age gap, which sometimes spans almost 20 years, but he notes feeling included
and welcome amongst his peers. "I have found the younger seminarians to be very
mature for their age. We are together here on a journey [to which age] is
irrelevant," stated Paul.
Paul studied music at the University of Texas, and has completed
course work for a masters degree in classical guitar. Several years ago, he was able
to spend time in Poland under a student exchange program where he was able to explore the
Catholic Church, as well as his love for music. He says music and religion have much in
common, "Music is a unifying factor in church. It is an integral part of our worship,
and I grow from both expressions."
Since arriving on the Mount campus, Paul feels his experiences
have more than exceeded expectations. The rich history, dedication, and teachings of the
priests who precede him have made the experience profound. Daily rosary walks, alone or
shared with other seminarians, taking moments to reflect on the work of priests who are
buried in the cemetery and the sight of the moon shining on the Campanile have reinforced
what Paul and the other 38 new seminary men could only have speculated before coming to
the Mount. "There is something magical here on this mountain," says Weirzbowski.
"It is a very spiritual place. It feels like we have been given a piece of heaven
here on earth."
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