On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Bishop Edward K. Braxton was the Principal Celebrant of the Eucharist in Sacred Heart Chapel of Sacred Heart Seminary in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. During this Mass, he conferred the Ministry of Lector on six Seminarians, including three from the Diocese of Belleville. They are: Mr. Carl Schrage, from St. Lawrence Parish in Sandoval; Mr. Joel Seipp, from St. Clare of Assisi Parish in O’Fallon; and Mr. Anthony Hyginus, from the Diocese of Abia State in Nigeria, who is studying to be a priest for the Diocese of Belleville.
In his homily, the Bishop stressed that for those who hope to be ordained to the priesthood, the Ministry of Lector must not be seen as a stepping stone. They are to be Lectors for the rest of their lives. It is a primary ministry of a Priest to be a serious student of the Word of God and to the Scripture and the best commentary on a regular basis. He must develop a biblical spirituality for his personal life.
“Dear Brothers: When you study the Scriptures, you must probe deep into the meaning of the text, striving to understand not only the meaning intended by the writer more than two thousand years ago, but also the meaning of the text for early Christians in Corinth, Rome, Philippi, and to various Christian communities through the centuries. In a special way, you must read the hearts of the Christians in your parish community in order to better understand the meaning of the Word of God for individuals who are seeking to live by the Word in their daily lives. More than that, you must read widely beyond the Scriptures in order to understand better the role of the Christian faith and the Catholic Church in this ‘secular age.’ I urge you not to be afraid of the ‘horizon of possibilities’ that is opened up by the entire spectrum of the different beliefs, practices, and experiences of the Christian community as well as of those who are not Christian, indeed, those who have no religious beliefs at all. As a Lector, you will sometimes be in situations in which you can clarify the meaning of the Word for the Catholic laity who, in some cases, do not have a clear understanding of important scriptural texts. Read so broadly and so deeply that you can help them to hold and teach the Catholic faith that comes to us from the Apostles.
Remember the words of Nehemiah ‘…and the Levites read from the Book of the Law of God from morning to night in a distinct manner helping all the People to understand the meaning of the Scriptures.’ And remember as well the words from the Gospel of St. Luke after Jesus proclaimed ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings,’ he proclaimed, ‘today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’ All spoke highly of Jesus and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. There is no better description of the impact that you should have as a faithful reader in the Church. Read in such a way that all will be amazed at the gracious words that come from your mouth!”
In the course of his visit, the Bishop met with the Rector of the Seminary, the Director of External Affairs, the Human Formation Advisor, the Director for Pastoral Formation, the Director of Liturgy, and the Director of Hispanic Studies. These meetings allowed the Bishop to obtain an update on the progress of the Belleville Seminarians in their intellectual, spiritual, moral, ecclesial, and liturgical formations. He also had dinner with the entire Seminary Community and had the opportunity for extended visits with the Belleville Seminarians and to visit with them in their individual rooms to gain a more personal knowledge of their life in the Seminary.