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Four local youth explore

seminary life during...

‘An Encounter with

God’s Call’

Attending the “Encounter with God’s Call” weekend at Conception Ceminary College are (LtoR) Bernie Fuentes, Saul Miramontes, Luis Villa, and William Munoz. Also pictured is Diocese of Dodge City seminarian Juan Salas, who attends Conception.

To wonder about the priesthood, one needs only to observe the local pastor, to ask questions, to engage in conversation with him, to take part in local parish activities.
But for those young men curious about the experience of becoming a priest, they must travel beyond the borders of the diocese to the seminary itself, in this case, Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo.

There, Luis Villa of Dodge City, Bernie Fuentes of Satanta, William Munoz of Garden City, and Saul Miramontes of Dodge City took part in the recent “Encounter With God’s Call” weekend.
They were led by Becky Hessman, Coordinator of Vocations, and her husband, Steve.
“Encounter With God’s Call is a great way for young men to experience what seminary life is like,” Becky said. “It’s common for young men to make trips to colleges they may be interested in.  Encounter With God’s Call is an alternative campus visit.          
“Every fall and spring the seminarians of Conception College host this event whereby you can spend two nights on campus, pray with the community, meet the students and staff, have fun, and see if God may be asking you to give seminary a try,” Hessman added.  
Bernie Fuentes, a 16-year-old student from Satanta, admitted that he had second thoughts about going, “but after I got there it was pretty good. Something new that I didn’t want to try ended up being something I really liked.”
The desire to become a priest isn’t a prerequisite for attending the weekend. In fact, Fuentes said that his hope at this point is to one day join the National Guard.
But whatever he does, his faith will certainly play a strong role in his life, a role he hopes will only be stregthened by his experience at Conception Seminary.
“I want to be involved in Church; I want to show people who God is.”
Fuentes said he is currently trying to start a youth group at St. Alphonsus Parish.
The Hessmans have taken young men to the fall weekend three times in the last five years.  So far, each man who has experienced the Encounter weekend has expressed how wonderful the weekend was for him, Becky Hessman said.      
“Many have said that they would like to go again.  And this year was no different. This is the first time that we needed to rent a van because our car would not hold everyone.  The conversation during the drive was very entertaining.  We had a fun group.”
When the group arrived, they were greeted by a “seminarian ambassador,” James Porter of Tulsa, to show them around the campus and to answer questions throughout the weekend.  
“At meal time, Juan Salas, a seminarian studying for our diocese would join us and one evening Brother Macario Martinez (formerly of Garden City) sat with us to answer questions about what the life of a monk is like.  
“Conception Seminary College is located in the beautiful rolling hills in Missouri north of Kansas City,” Hessman said. “The campus is truly located out in the middle of nowhere.   And yet there is a beauty and a peace that seems to touch each person who spends time there.”  
The Encounter weekend is for high school juniors and seniors, and college-age men.  The next Encounter week is March 26-28, 2011.  

Diocese of Dodge City

910 Central PO Box 137 Dodge City, KS 67801 | 620-227-1500

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