Two American seminarians living and studying in Rome have found that their experience of Lent this year has been both challenging and rewarding.
“I’ve given up eating burgers and eating out, but I’ve also added things to my prayer regiment,” said Kyle Sahd, originally from the Diocese of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania.
For Sahd that means organizing Mass at the Station Churches, which the Pontifical North American College sponsors every other Lent.
It also means getting up before 6:00 a.m. to make it in time for Mass at 7:00 a.m. in a different Roman church each day. His duties also involve finding a priest to celebrate Mass, making sure the various churches are available, and taking care of liturgical vestments.
Sahd hopes that in the end this Lenten effort will increase his knowledge of Jesus’ Passion.
Seminarian Alex Kreidler from the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese is charged with helping Sahd make sure the Station Masses happen.
“It is my house job to be the assistant to Kyle in the Station Churches so I’ve made that a real part of the Lenten practice this year,” said Kreidler.
“It’s become a practice and a penance in itself because last year it was optional for me, but this year it isn’t,” he said.
Organizing the Station Masses also means that the two seminarians are staying in Rome while their classmates head to all corners of Europe for Holy Week, a chance that only comes up every other year.
Kreidler said he hopes to attend some of the Pope’s Masses during the last three days of Holy Week.
“For a Catholic, Holy Week is the holiest week of the year because we concentrate on the Lord’s most important events of his life,” said Kreidler.
“It’s this time of year that forms our identity as Christians and gives substance to the Creed,” he stated.
For Sahd, the transition between Popes has also been a big part of Lent.
“This has been just a wonderful and blessed week and even month to be here during the transition of Benedict to His Holiness, Francis,” Sahd reflected.
“It’s been such a blessed time to witness the faith here in Rome and to see how it is alive in Italy,” said the seminarian, who has been at the college for nearly three years.
He noted that while “celebrating the Pope is part of Italian culture,” it is also “such a joy to see the universality of the Church.”