St. Paul wrote, “Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one” (1 Cor 9:25).
When young men visit the seminary, they often ask what the seminarians do for fun. The discipline of waking up early each morning and arriving to the chapel to pray, followed by time in the classroom helps the seminarians grow in their relationship with God, but much of the growth is hard to measure and the results take time. At the conclusion of the academic year, there is a long-held Conception Seminary College tradition that serves as something on the horizon to look forward to. Conception hosts a sort of “field day,” the kind of annual event that evokes memories for alumni and serves as a welcomed reprieve for the seminarians who are just finishing their final exams. May Day is an all-day athletic competition between the entire student body who is divided between the blue and the white team. Events range from running races to typical sports like basketball, softball, soccer, and volleyball. It also includes unique events that might fluctuate from year to year depending on interest, like Spikeball, disc golf, chess, and ping-pong.
Individuals and teams earn points throughout the day and the team with the most points wins. What do they win? There are a few awards presented at the end of the day, but mostly bragging rights.
Even though rain threatened at various points during the day, this year’s festivities brought beautiful weather, fairly friendly competition, but a strong reminder of how the bonds of brotherhood and the community life formed at Conception Seminary College rises far above other seminaries. The basketball game brought intense competition and talent, but it had to be ended shortly because after 12 minutes of play, there were two sprained ankles and one broken nose, which was the result of an inadvertent swipe for the basketball. The injuries on the basketball court did not dampen the spirits as the seminarians continued cheering for their teams, supporting one another, and modeling the kind of sportsmanship that makes any seminary formator proud.
The day concluded as always with a cookout with the monastic community and award ceremony. Conception Seminary College continues to provide numerous outlets for a healthy lifestyle for the seminarians and plenty of encouragement to build the types of friendships that are an essential component to their growth now and will be important for their success in the future as priests. With St. Paul, it is inspiring to see these seminarians competing well and keeping the faith (cf. 2 Tim 4:7)
— Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB
Director of Spiritual Formation