Seminarians get closer to God on mountaintop

A group of priests and seminarians from the Diocese of Wichita pose during a hike earlier this month near Colorado Springs. Getting closer to God were Fathers Chad Arnold and Adam Grelinger and seminarians Seth Arnold, Isaac Elpers, Grant Huslig, Peter Bergkamp, Will Kerschen, Caleb Kuestersteffen, Matthew Cooke, and Isaac Hilger. (Courtesy photos)

There’s nothing like sleeping on the floor of a century-old cabin at an altitude of 8,000 feet to sweeten the memory of your warm, soft bed back home.

But then there’s nothing like spending a week on a mountain with your fellow seminarians to enhance camaraderie and deepen one’s understanding about the glory of God.

Father Chad Arnold, Father Adam Grelinger, and eight seminarians of the Diocese of Wichita did so when they got out into nature the first week of August near Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, located about six miles north of Pikes Peak.

“I wanted to find a way to tie in the experience of God in nature, but also get the guys out of their normative zone for greater discussion,” Father Arnold said, “and the added confidence that results from going out and pushing yourself physically.”

Space limited in the cabin

Although there was a limited amount of space in the cabin, it was enough for eight sleeping bags.

“We went out there and hiked and prayed and played and just had really, really good conversation in the evening,” he said.

“I wanted to kind of step back and hear where they were at and let them talk and discuss among themselves. I introduced the topics and would throw in a thought here and there, but mostly it was just letting them speak among themselves.”

In addition to daily Mass, adoration, and prayer, the group hiked Catamount Falls and ascended Raspberry Peak and Pikes Peak. The group hiked to Pikes Peak via the Devils Playground trail, but with two priests with them, concern about the trail was minimal.

Seminarian school year begins

The Colorado trip was a conclusion to the summer for several of the seminarians who later made preparations to leave for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, or Mundelein Seminary in Chicago to continue their formation and studies for a master’s degree.

The others will continue their formation and studies as part of the St. Joseph House of Formation, located on the St. Joseph Parish campus in Wichita.

They’re eager to get back together after the height of the pandemic, Father Arnold said.

“We’re really excited about this year,” he said. “Last year was our first graduating class and so some of the guys have gone onto theologate. So we’ll get feedback from them in the coming year, to find out where we’re really strong, where we need to grow, some things to tighten up.”

Father Arnold said he and the others involved in the St. Joseph House of Formation feel good about the men they’ve graduated to theologate, but are still eager to hear from them.

Bishop Carl A. Kemme celebrated a Mass Wednesday, Aug. 19, in the House’s main chapel to mark the new school year.