By Benjamin Cafeo, Saint Mary Church, Windber, Pennsylvania
From November 1st to 3rd, 2019, 16 men came from all over the United States to visit the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh for a discernment retreat accurately titled “Come and See.” The idea behind the weekend was to help retreatants prayerfully discern God’s calling by living with the seminarians and getting a taste of the experience of seminary life. Retreatants came from the four Ruthenian eparchies (Pittsburgh, Passaic, Parma, and Phoenix) and the Melkite Eparchy of Newton.
I was one of the men to attend this great weekend of prayer and fraternity. Prayer formed the structure of the retreat with beautiful liturgical services, including Vespers, Compline, Festal Matins, Divine Liturgies, and 9th Hour, led by Fathers Will Rupp, Robert Pipta, and Joel Barstad. There were also short classes and talks led by various instructors who teach at the seminary, by spiritual directors of seminarians, and by the seminarians themselves.
Fraternity was also a significant part of the weekend. The seminarians were each assigned retreatants in order to mentor them. This provided for some very good spiritual conversations on discernment and life in general. Very enjoyable was an ice cream social where we and the seminarians were able to talk, play games, and have genuine human interaction, which is something we do not get a lot of in today’s tech world. I particularly appreciated a long conversation with the seminary’s head cantor, where we talked about Byzantine musical melodies for almost an hour.
One of the rules for the weekend was “phones-off” which strongly encouraged us to interact with each other and be able to focus on God during times of silence.
This weekend was a powerful one in my life. Discerning God’s will is important for me; I have been praying in front of my icon corner at home and at the Divine Liturgy asking for a clearer understanding of His will for me for quite some time, and attending this weekend was a significant part of my continuing discernment. With the meditative prayer, disconnection from the world, and the fraternity of men in discernment and formation, it really helped all of us to focus on God’s plan and hear Him more clearly. I do not yet know fully if God is calling me to be a priest, but this weekend was a very good aid in teaching me how to listen more diligently and peacefully for the voice of His call.