This year our seminarians once again gathered for the annual convocation, a 5 day retreat intended to help them grow together, spiritually and fraternally. The gathering was held at Cliffview Retreat Center from May 20-24, with the theme, “A Kentucky Monk: The Spirituality and Life of Thomas Merton”. Deacon Bill Grimes, who was a novice under Thomas Merton, gave several conferences on the spirituality of the famous writer and priest. A day at Gethsemane Abbey, where Thomas Merton lived, prayed, and wrote, brought the writings to life and also afforded the seminarians the chance to hear two current monks give presentations on “Fr. Louis”, as he was known in the monastery. A tour of the monastery and its grounds, a private Mass, and communal Liturgy of the Hours rounded off the trip. The day at Gethsemane and the focus on Thomas Merton were not the only purpose of the week-long convocation. The retreat also gave the seminarians a chance to step back from their busy lives and come together as a community. The men attend different seminarians and have their own responsibilities, but during the convocation they are able to join together and support each other, sharing in the experience of preparation for the priesthood. Bishop Gainer also joined the seminarians during their time at Gethsemane and Cliffview, offering his own support for their ongoing studies and formation, and giving them a chance to spend time with their bishop as well. At the end of the week the seminarians left to begin their summer assignments across the diocese. But while separated by distance, they know that their diocesan brothers will continue to support and pray for them.

convocation2