I am excited that Father Kevin has asked me to give you a short update about my life as a seminarian who is studying for the priesthood for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Having entered seminary in the fall of 2012, I am coming closer and closer to my ordination to the priesthood in June of 2020. Having completed my degree in philosophy from Duquesne University while at St. Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh and now studying theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, I have over two more years of study and one year in a parish in Pittsburgh before the big day (ordination.) While this may seem like an extended amount of time, there is certainly a lot to learn.

In addition to the schooling, I am evaluated and trained in being a pastor, in order to serve the people in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. I have a wonderful opportunity to teach third and fourth graders here in Rome and help prepare them for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. It is also important for me in my spiritual life to form and develop an active and contemplative prayer life while in seminary to be able to carry that into the priesthood. All of these aspects of a seminarian’s life are critical to becoming a happy, healthy and holy priest.

While I may be far from home (over 4,500 miles to be more precise), I am proud of calling Pittsburgh home. While I have certainly come to love Europe as I become more familiar with it, I have also grown to increasingly love the place that I call home too.

One of my favorite experiences of being over here was when I went to a small town called Pagani, which is near Naples in Italy. This is where our patron, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, is buried. It was a powerful experience to pray in front of where he is laid and to thank God for not only his life and witness but also for him being the patron of our school and parish. Praying in the church of St. Alphonsus’ tomb made me feel as though I was praying in the very familiar pews of St. Al’s. It felt like a little piece of home. However, because St. Al’s was such a large part of my life, from going to school there and altar serving for many years, I experience that familiarity and joy of being back home in each and every church I pray in, no matter how close or far from Pittsburgh I truly am.

When we see the candle surrounded by red glass above or near the tabernacle in any Catholic Church, we are reminded of the reality of the true presence of God in the Eucharist. The candle is always lit and glowing, and is reminding us of God always being there and waiting for us to visit him and to spend time with him.

No matter if we are at St. Al’s or a nearby parish or a Catholic Church thousands of miles away, may we always be comforted by the true presence of God and be thankful for the Church and the people who brought us to recognize the gift of our faith in the all-loving and merciful God. I know that I can certainly tell you that I am so thankful for my family, friends, priests and educators at St. Al’s for their example of living out the faith in Jesus, He who is our freedom and salvation.  As a parish, you have always been there to support me, from my Baptism to my altar serving to my entering of seminary to my leaving for Rome.

I thank you for your prayers and support through these many years and please know of my prayers for all of you.

–Jeff Craig

jcraig@diopitt.org

Mailing address:

Pontifical North American College
00120 Vatican City State
(Europe)