Life as a Student in a Catholic Seminary

Leticia Delgado, Chaplain

* Leticia is working on an MA at St. John Seminary.

It has been two years since I started studying at St John’s seminary.  Working full time and taking classes has not been easy. Every single semester of these two years has been different, filled with challenges of learning, new friendships, and surprises from God.   I really mean it, different schedule, times, classes, professors, seasons, friends.

During these two years, I have grown so much in my relationship with God. My mornings begin with a wonderful sunrise from God welcoming me to a new day and as I drive through the fields at Moorpark I see people working in the fields while I breathe and enjoy the freshness of life.

The classes have sometimes been difficult, especially trying to make time to study. However, it has been an opportunity to learn about God, the God who is constantly present in my life and in the lives of my friends and the people I journey with at the hospital.

When I think about my life as a student and as an interfaith chaplain, I realize that both my school and my work are connected in many ways. This semester I am taking 3 courses. One of the courses is Synoptic Gospels by Fr. Patrick Mullen. During one of the classes he asked us to reflect on the question “Who is God in my life?” I wanted to answer honestly not just a simple answer that did not mean anything to me.

After class, I kept asking myself that question, “Who is God in my life?”  For days I could not find an answer to the question.  And then one day, as I was making my visits at the hospital, I visited a 46 year old woman who was dying of cancer, and an 18 year old young girl who was there to terminate her pregnancy.

I observed that the 46 year old woman was in a hospital room surrounded by a large family to support her, even when she was not responding anymore. Having been single all her life she had taken care of her nieces and nephews and, at this time in the hospital, she was surrounded by her brothers and sisters, and her nieces and nephews who loved and appreciated her for all she had done throughout her life.

The young girl, who is 18 years old and four months pregnant, had come to the hospital to terminate her pregnancy because she could not afford to have a baby. As I talked with her I discovered that she is a prostitute who lives on the streets and has no other way of supporting herself other than prostitution. She became a part of the State system at the age of 6 after her parents’ very complicated divorce. When she was 9 years old her grandmother became her legal guardian.  Unfortunately two years later her grandmother died of breast cancer.  Because she did not have anybody’s support she began prostituting at the age of 11.

As I visited these two women, the question “Who is God in my life?” came to mind. I was reminded that God is present during the most difficult moments of our life and especially the moment of transition of life to death.  God’s relationship with each person is unique and I was sure that God was there with each of these two women. God is in our lives in many different ways through the people who journey with us in our pilgrimage in life.  Yes, God is constantly in my life as my good friend who guides me to be present in people’s lives in so many ways. God is present in my life journey in the good times and in the bad times. This is what I have learned from school and from work during this wonderful experience where these two ladies gave me the opportunity to be present to them in this transition of life.