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Archives Summer assignments help train seminarians

July 1, 2020

Editor’s note: This article is the first installment in a series featuring the summer assignments of the seminarians of the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

By Colleen Miner
Contributing Writer

Summer assignment help expose seminarians of the Diocese of Ogdensburg to various parts of the priesthood and parish life, and it can be a critical part of the seminarians’ discernment process.

Leagon Carlin
Leagon Carlin, who is about to enter his third year of Theology in the fall at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, is assigned to the “Catholics along the AuSable River,” the Catholic Community of Holy Name and St. Matthew in Au Sable Forks, the Roman Catholic Community of Keeseville, and St. Margaret’s Parish in Wilmington.

With the current rapid and inconsistent situation, Carlin’s duties change each day. A few things that are consistent are: lectoring and serving at Mass, assisting in verifying and updating Cemetery records, and making Communion calls (with proper precautions, of course).

Carlin also accompanies Father Kris C. Lauzon when he administers anointings and helps with various other tasks around each of the churches, from gardening to minor maintenance. In addition, Carlin lends a hand in the parish offices.

“The most unexpected and ever-changing of my regular tasks are those related to the current Pandemic,” said Carlin, 23, a native of Plattsburgh. “We have spent quite a bit of time roping off pews and marking seats, making and hanging signs, filling bottles of hand sanitizer and disinfectant. Then, each day after the liturgy, I sanitize the pews, door handles, and more.”

Whether assisting Father Lauzon or one of the staff with some task, or in conversations with the people of the parishes, Carlin hopes to be able to lighten, not increase, the burden with his presence and participation.

“All of us have unique gifts and areas of strength, and I hope to put my whole self into the tasks and opportunities offered me in this assignment, utilizing those gifts and strengths that I have been given to be constructively involved in the community, forming open and positive lines of communication, building relationships, and offering a different point of view,” he said.

Carlin noted that the summer assignment is part of the process of the formation for the Priesthood. The accompanying experiences are an important part, as they are structured in such a way that if a seminarian really enters into it and opens his heart and mind to the process, he can recognize that God is indeed calling him to this vocation, and identify the parts of himself which need to be more configured to Christ in order to properly live it.

The greatest areas that Carlin hopes to grow and learn in the context of this Summer Assignment are in the practical “day-to-day” work of parish life and operation, and in the essential work of orienting his personality to be a bridge, and not an obstacle, to Christ.

“It is very helpful for me to get all the experience possible in the practical operations of a parish, the ‘business side,’ since I would not consider myself to be naturally gifted in that area,” he said. “It is also very necessary that I learn, through the context of the parish and rectory life, the parts of my personality that are perhaps still a bit rough…There are ways to order pieces of my personality so that they make me more approachable, genial, and able to ‘be Christ’ to the people He has given me to love.”

Matthew Conger
Seminarian Matthew Conger is spending the summer at St. Bernard’s in Saranac Lake. Conger said his duties at St. Bernard’s in Saranac Lake have varied due to the Covid-19.

“They’ve taken on a different form” said Conger, 28, of Ogdensburg, who is preparing to enter his fourth year of Theology studies at Christ the King Seminary in Buffalo and will be ordained a transitional deacon in August. “The most important duties that I have been able to help out with is getting the Church ready to welcome back the faithful.”

Conger said it was helpful to see how much preparation went into making sure that the church is a safe place for people to return.

Other duties include learning how things work in the office.

“There is so much to learn, and with full-time parish life fast approaching for me, it is beneficial to see how to run the office properly,” Carlin said. “Father Martin (Cline) has been helpful in his approach in teaching me how to document and write out proper certificates for the faithful who need those records. This is something that they don't teach you in the seminary.”

Conger sees this summer as “an excellent opportunity to learn from the pastors who have been leading their flocks for a long time.”

Conger believes that "it is essential to the ministry in the Church, that we must be as present to the faithful more now than we ever were before. We have been separated for quite some time now, so just to let them know that we are still here and that they are still just as important to us as they ever were.”

Conger is trying to “learn the most from Father Martin; he has the experience of being an excellent and faithful pastor to the people he serves. I hope that I can learn a lot from him and how he is with the community and those he works with. He is an excellent example of what a good and holy pastor should look like. This is what I hope to learn from this summer assignment.”

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