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Putting Out Into The Deep

by JJ Przewozniak (S’18)

Life at SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary as a layperson is

a curious thing for many people, no doubt. For practicing

Catholics, forming one’s academic substrate for a career in

ministry at a seminary is a normal and exciting part of life

that’s special in its purpose but relatively ordinary in its

form. But what about those whose paths aren’t directed to

ordained ministry?

The truth is that seminary studies have a way of deepening

faith and enhancing life for all people. I was asked to reflect

on my experience at SSCMS, and now that my studies are

over, I’m happy to encourage everyone to consider making a

seminary part of your own academic and spiritual formation.

I took a different path than many I suppose, and I’m glad

I did. As many in our community know, I’m Curator of

Collections at The Polish Mission, which is a full-time

obligation just a few doors down from the seminary building.

Pursuing higher education in theology had always been

something the piqued my interest, but I never thought I’d

ever have the opportunity (or time, for that matter) to attend

a seminary, especially not with a demanding work schedule.

Regardless, something in my mind kept recalling Luke 5:1-

11, in which Jesus commanded Simon Peter to “Put out

into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” The Sea

of Galilee in this context, is a metaphor for conversion. The

spiritual masters of the church such as St. Ignatius of Loyola,

St. Augustine, St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta and so many

others have given us great examples of conversion toward

Jesus. We’re called to that same kind of conversion in our

everyday lives. Whether it’s in an awesome way such as the

many prominent and famous Catholic figures in history, or

it’s the smaller, more intimate experiences that draws us to

Jesus step by step, those conversion experiences are equal

in their purpose: they call us to discipleship, and they apply

to everyone from the devout to those just starting to explore

Christianity.

We all know how the story in Luke ends: Simon Peter’s

trust in Jesus resulted in huge quantities of fish caught, and

afterwards the awestruck Simon Peter pledged himself to

Jesus. Perhaps I was like Simon Peter on my own Sea of

Galilee; perhaps enrolling was my homage to “put out into

the deep,” just as St. John Paul II reminded us all in his

famous Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte from 2000.

I didn’t realize just how much my faith could deepen in this

experience, and now that my journey is done, I regret not

doing it sooner.

Initially, I had taken evening and online classes that would

allow me to remain focused on my work duties, while moving

my studies along at a medium pace. Our seminarians

routinely take 12+ credits per semester (one class is 2 or 3

credits), but time constraints forced me to be a lightweight in

a certain sense, taking only one or two classes per semester

at the beginning. I look back fondly at those classes with

Fr. Obloy, Fr. Madey, Dr. Genig, and all the others! It was

exciting to be back in an academic setting after some years

away from university, and taking just a couple classes at a

time was a great way to digest and appreciate the content

and direction of my studies. At first, it seemed like I’d never

finish, which was a bit depressing, but then I realized that I

was looking at this experience all wrong. Isn’t it true that we

often run through life at what seems like breakneck speed

only to regret not enjoying the things we passed up? In my

opinion, that’s a terrible affliction that affects us in more

ways than we suspect. I saw that in myself for sure, so the

SSCMS staff helped me create a steady path, and I became

determined to stick with it.

From what we see in our society, it’s fair to suspect that few

are willing to make the investment of time and money for

such a venture as pursuing a graduate degree in theology,

but the main idea of these few paragraphs is to encourage

it! There are many reasons why my particular journey was

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