Mitchell Paul Doerneman is my third child and he just entered his third year at Conception Seminary College.
I dropped him off like.it.was.no.big.deal. YEAH!
He is doing well. I wanted to know more of the ins and outs of his daily life so we carved out an hour of time and he gave me the low down on Life as an UpperClassman.
First and foremost, much has changed in regards to the Wichita Diocese for minor seminary. We are not sending young men just to Conception Seminary; several are in Texas and Wichita just opened its own Formation House.
What that means for Mitch: less Wichita guys at Conception, which is a bummer but also interesting. He can tell they are going to form an even tighter brotherhood this year simply because there’re only five of them.
5:45: Rise and Shine. Get to the Union by 6:00 for a cup of joe, joined by six or seven other guys.
6:45-8 Jesus Time: 15 minutes for the Office of Reading, 45 minutes for quiet meditation, 15 minutes for Morning Prayer.
8:30-10: work out.
10:30-11:20: Presentational Speaking taught by Brother Cyprian.
11:20-11:35 Ping Pong with Seth Arnold in the Union. (I love the precision of this schedule.)
12:30-1 Lunch buffet style.
1:40-2:30 Epistemology: Studying Knowledge ~What does it meant to know something? “It’s….delightful.”
2:40-3:30: Ancient Philosophy. He learns about ancient philosophers from different time periods and their basic ideas; it’s a road map to where we are now, a history class of sorts.
3:45-5 Team Sports: “Mandatory Fun” for Freshmen and Sophomores. M/W only. Mitch is the upper classman helper. He gets to have fun with the younger guys and he helps run the class. On that particular day they played kick ball.
5:00 Change and get ready for evening prayer. Mitch likes to take a quick walk at this time and get in half a rosary.
5:50 Evening Prayer.
6:15: Formal Dinner. That means everything is more intentional.
7:00 Free for the evening. Mitch usually plays “Settlers of Catan” (a strategic board game) in the lounge with some guys.
They also spend time hanging out on the freshman/sophomore floors, playing video games, resting, reading comic books and finishing up homework.
Tuesday/Thursday varies a bit; he has a Physical Science class and the lab.
External Form: Mitch meets with his Chaplain every other week. Purpose: to talk about classes, how life is going, his health and well-being, everything he wouldn’t talk about in the confessional.
Internal Form: Mitch meets with his Spiritual Director on the off week. Purpose: to talk about everything he would say in a confessional.
Mitchell absolutely loves formation. As the mama, I love formation. I think you should MAKE your son go to seminary JUST.FOR.THE.FORMATION.
Imagine sitting down every week with someone totally invested in you. It’s such a cool thing.
Mitch loves the growth that has come from being able to talk specifically every week with his mentors. He can talk comfortably with his formators about capitalizing on his strengths and coming to terms with his weaknesses. They do a good job at recognizing that there is not a specific mold for a future priest.
As an upperclassman, Mitch has the chance for a lot of leadership, which he loves. He has organized chastity groups. He is head of the public relations committee. They take care of the social media piece of the pie. He helps with the year book.
Every seminary is assigned work in the community; some teach PSR, one gets to ride in a squad car. This year Mitchell is assigned to Hospital Ministry.
If this priest thing doesn’t work out…
Conception is an all-male college located 15 miles from the nearest city. When Mitch was a freshman he noticed that an upperclassman was in charge of cutting hair. That made sense. If someone on campus could cut hair, that would save the students a lot of time and money.
Mitch wanted to be able to take over the service when the upperclassman graduated. So he learned how to cut hair. He found a few guys willing to let him practice on them. He gradually built up a clientele.
This year he was able to take over the barbershop. He even bought a barber chair.
Mitch is man enough to admit that he is woefully distracted during any event where there are heads of hair. He perfects his art continually as he observes others.
He gives about 8 haircuts per week. He’s really good at it. My boys no longer let me cut their hair. They wait for Mitchell to come home with his clippers.
Friday night: They have “Gaudeamus” meaning “We Rejoice.” The guys gather in the union and enjoy a more relaxed evening playing pool, ping pong or pitch.
At 9:00 every Friday night Mitchell shows a movie. He has over 400 movies in his collection.
“Why so many?”
“Oh.” I am not sure exactly that that means.
Saturday is his favorite day. They have Mass then it’s free time. He enjoys a leisurely coffee with his morning prayer.
Then he has a nice routine: he starts laundry. He eats breakfast. He changes laundry. He works out. He finishes laundry.
He cuts hair on Saturdays. Many weeks they go out to eat in Maryville then go back to Conception for video games. Sometimes they just chill or chat late into the night.
Sunday is The Big Mass with All the Bells and Whistles. Everything is sung, there is incense, etc. Think MONASTERY.
Formal Lunch follows Mass.
2:00 Coffee time. Okay, let me just say that I love this about Mitch: He Gathers People Together.
Every Sunday last year he’d invite guys into his room for Coffee Time. He would steal borrow the big coffee pumpy Thermos thing from the kitchen (holds about two pots of coffee) and on a good afternoon, 20 guys would come and go for Coffee Time.
The priests would stop by. Coffee Time is a Big Deal.
This year he plans to host Coffee Time in the lounge.
Every Sunday night they have Adoration in the Basilica, which is a massive space. They sing acapella which SOUNDS amazing; then they have a reading which settles them down and truly sets the tone. They have one hour of Adoration: 7:45-8:45.
Sunday Evenings are also Diocesan Time. That means the young men hang out with the guys from their diocese. There is a sacred fraternity amid the guys at Conception and it’s something he greatly values, especially with his brothers from the Wichita Diocese.
I asked what he did last Sunday.
“Well, Seth Arnold received a gift card from someone. He took it and bought ingredients for stew. He put the stew in a cast-iron pot and we hung it over a fire on Maria Loch.”
“Maria Loch” is a cool little island located behind the school buildings. There is a fire pit on the island and a small statue of Mary.
He said after they consumed the Nature-Infused Stew, they hung out and smoked cigars together. He loves his brothers.
Mitch said the people of the diocese of Wichita give them an incredible amount of support, “more support than we deserve.”
So, thank you for supporting seminarians. Thank you for your continued prayers.
Growth is good. For all of us. This is what happened that first year: Taking My Child to Seminary.