Closing the St. Greg’s chapter
by Matthew Kensok
“Looking at these past three years, I can only thank him for the
memories and for the growth he has fostered in my formation.” – Matthew Kensok
It was chilly and muddy on the morning of October 15, 2017 in Conception, Mo. Having woken up before 5 a.m. to make the three hour drive from St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Neb., I walked with my fellow seminarians over a small hill to reach the soccer field at Conception Seminary. Once in view, Father Eickhoff, our rector, led a chant of “Go Saint Greg’s,” and our seminarian brothers on the field turned in amazement to see that their brothers had made the trek from Nebraska. We had come to cheer them on in the championship soccer game of the Thunder Cup, an annual tournament between seminary teams.
Even though we lost the game, everyone remembers that day when we came together to support our brothers in their championship effort. Afterwards, we all celebrated second place at the local Pizza Ranch as the worn team expressed again their gratitude and surprise at our having come to watch the game. It was a memory that none of us would soon forget.
There have been a lot of memories over these past three years of seminary that I won’t be forgetting any time soon. A lot of these memories bring joy: a free weekend trip to Denver with my fellow Fargo seminarians to visit the seminary and friends, a hilarious skit about a quest similar to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, playing ultimate frisbee on warm, calm evenings (sometimes in shorts in January or February…Nebraska weather is a little different from home), or even just a friendly game of indoor basketball on a cold winter evening. All of these and more bring fond memories of my first three years as a seminarian. My summer experiences have also been amazing: serving on Young Disciples two years ago and working in Fargo last summer while staying at Bishop Folda’s house. I wouldn’t trade these past three years for anything.
But life comes with its hardships as well. A year before that second place soccer finish, I was again in Conception, Mo., when I received the news that my grandpa had passed. This was the first death of someone really close to me in the family. Before entering my first year of seminary, I was shocked to hear of the death of Samuel Traut, who joined me on a mission trip to Peru just weeks before his death, and early on in that first year, one of the seminarians also passed away after his battle with brain cancer. But this Easter season, I cannot help but be filled with hope for them as I remember Christ conquering death. I now remember to pray for the deceased in a completely new way.
I have also seen a lot of growth in myself over these few years. Before entering seminary, I would pray the rosary and make a holy hour once a week. Now I do the same every day as I continue to grow closer to Christ as his disciple. I have grown in leadership by teaching the local kids about the faith on Wednesdays. I became a leader this year as the head sacristan, preparing for our seminary liturgies. I also helped lead the guys this fall through a total consecration to Jesus through Mary, and I sometimes help with music, playing my trumpet or leading the singing for Mass. I hope to continue to foster these leadership qualities if God continues to call me onward to the priesthood.
Most importantly, I have grown in love of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist when he humbly comes to us in the Mass. Consequently, I have grown in love of the priesthood, having met so many great priests along the way. As I consider all that is left to do this semester, with comprehensive exams, finals, and graduation, I can’t help but surrender myself to the Lord and his will for my life. I know that he will continue to provide for me. Looking at these past three years, I can only thank him for the memories and for the growth he has fostered in my formation. I graduated from St. Greg’s on May 5, so the St. Greg’s chapter of my life has closed. But, a new chapter begins. I am looking forward to my summer in Omaha, Neb. at the Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF) before heading to Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland next fall.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support of vocations. May God bless you all!
Kensok will enter Theology I this coming fall at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md.
Editor’s Note: Seminarian Life is a monthly column written by current Diocese of Fargo seminarians. It gives New Earth readers a glimpse of what these discerning young men are experiencing. Please continue to pray for them.