THE BEST PLACE TO DISCERN
The Best Place to Discern by John Lococo (Excerpt)
CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL
My catholic education started early. It’s always been an integral part of my life. But I think once I got to high school, when, I was about 16 or 17, I really started making my faith personal to me. It was something that I chose to do myself, which tied in nicely with an all-boys school, which really provided a chance for me to be open, to share my experience with others, and really grow as a man. Most importantly they had a lot of outlets for those who wanted to express their faith in a genuine way. I served on a number of liturgical assignments and helped lead a number of retreats including a Kairos retreat. I played football, one of my passions, and continued at a Catholic University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
It was there that I felt I found a really good community where I could play football, go to school, and also live my Catholic faith. This was expressed primarily through the Catholic Studies Program where they’re focused on fostering a holistic approach of a human person. And I felt it was something I could take from there and bring into the real world and truly be a witness to the faith. At the time I had been dating somebody for over a year. I was pursuing a major in finance. I was playing football. I was just interested in graduating, getting on in the world, and starting a family.
My discernment process, really, reached its peak, in January 2012, right before I went to study abroad in Rome for a semester. It was actually funny. I was out one night and in about 11 P.M, when I had two young priests from Milwaukee call me up and they say “John, we think you should be a priest.” I was keeping in mind that I had been dating somebody for two years, and said, "Okay, thank you Fathers, that was very nice to say." But when I hung up the phone it kind of stuck with me. It stuck with me longer than I thought was natural. So I kind of kept it there. I didn’t push it away like I think I had done once I was in high school. It was then that I knew I was never called to be a financial investor. I was not called to be a father. I was called to be a priest for the Catholic Church. I prayed about it. I discerned it. There was a deacon in Rome at the time that was incredibly influential in helping me discern and giving me the right material to read and think about.
CATHOLIC COLLEGE SEMINARY
As soon as I arrived back home in June, I applied to the seminary. By the end of July I was accepted and I was off to St. Joseph College Seminary in the fall. At St. Joe’s though, I have found a community where I am surrounded with thirty other people who are struggling with the same things, who are discerning the same things, who are seeking to approach the altar of the priest. So Loyola has provided the philosophy for me to study and St. Joe’s has provided the community, the formation, the spiritual direction, and the discernment that has allowed me to realize that this is what I should be doing with my life. And so I realize ultimately that being here is the best decision for me. St. Joseph’s College Seminary is the best place to discern the priesthood.
AN AUTHENTIC COLLEGE EXPERIENCE
A PLACE TO PRAY
LITURGICAL AND DEVOTIONAL LIFE
SJCS seminarians pray daily in community the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. Eucharistic Adoration is celebrated twice a week. A monthly evening of reflection is hosted, that includes adoration and a spiritual talk by one of the priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The sacrament of penance is also available several times a week in house, as well as on campus at Loyola University.
Devotions are also practiced both individually and communally each week: the rosary, the Stations of the Cross (during Lent), the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and recitation of traditional prayers such as the Angelus and the Regina Caeli (during Easter). The seminary also hosts an evening of outreach to Loyola students called Ignite once a month that also includes prayer and praise music as well as adoration.
PERSONAL PRAYER AND SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
Each seminarian is expected to spend time each day in personal prayer and meditation. To help develop a strong personal prayer life as well as to aid discernment, each seminarian choose a spiritual director from a select pool of priests. The seminarian meets with his spiritual director every two weeks for an hour to discuss his spiritual and prayer life, and his ongoing discernment of the call to priesthood.
THE CHAPEL OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY
The Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary was built with the intention of being the highlight and center of our new building. From its beautiful rose window to the marble altar, the chapel is a place that moves the seminarians, and the community at large, to prayer. The chapel is also the center of the seminarians’ prayer life. The day starts with Meditation and Mass in the chapel and concludes with evening prayer on most days. The chapel is open 24 hours a day to allow the seminarians to increase in their devotion to the Eucharist and build a friendship with Christ.
A DAY IN THE LIFE
ST. JOSEPH COLLEGE SEMINARY
St. Joseph College Seminary is the undergraduate seminary program of the Archdiocese of Chicago, located on the campus of Loyola University in Chicago. Our faculty, staff, and college seminarians are committed to the formation of a vibrant community centered in the mind and heart of Jesus Christ. Through programs of spiritual formation, apostolic work, and academic excellence, our college seminarians have the opportunity to develop into well-educated, well-balanced Catholic men and to discern the Call to serve the Church and society as Catholic priests.