21-February-2013 -- EWTNews Feature |

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American seminarians sustain Rome's Station Church tradition

Seminarians from the Pontifical North American College are inthe second week of carrying out the ancient Lenten tradition of participating in daily Mass at churches across Rome.

The seminarians are visiting one "station church" per day for 7:00 a.m. Mass, following the route of the early Christians who first began the practice. The tradition dates back to the second century, but the order of visiting them was not organized until the fifth century.

"I absolutely love the tradition," said Greg Gerhardt from the Diocese of Austin, Texas after the Mass at St. Anastasia Church on Feb. 19.

"Today in particular really manifested the pilgrimage aspect to it because coming here you have the olive trees representing the world andtrials within it," added the College's second year seminarian after the Mass at St. Anastasia.

The pilgrimage began on Ash Wednesday with Mass in the church of St. Sabina on the Aventine hill.

After Santa Sabina on the list were St. John Lateran, St.Cecilia in Trastevere and the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica.

The last Mass will be held at Santa Maria Maggiore on March 27.

The Feb. 19 Mass at St. Anastasia was the first time that Father Michael Gallacher celebrated Mass in that church, after participating inthe tradition for three years as a seminarian.

"It was very special to do my first station Mass," said Fr. Gallacherof the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

"It is wonderful to be up at the altar, " he added. "They all have so much history linked to the early Popes and history of the Church."

It was also the very first time an American priest, Fr.David Gaffney, was able to undertake the pilgrimage.

"To be part of that tradition is great and it is a wonderful custom," said Fr. Gaffney from the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island.

"It takes getting up a little earlier than usual and walking fast-paced with the seminarians to get the various churches," Fr. Gaffney said.

"But it really is a great opportunity to see the churches inRome and to celebrate Mass in them as part of a long tradition."

The seminarians and priests also spoke about Pope Benedict XVI.

"Pope Benedict has done a great deal for the seminarians these last few years and I can see that having had the chance to work with them these last few years," said Fr. Gaffney, who is in his first year as spiritual director at the North American College.

He believes that seminarians are "very much influenced" byPope Benedict's writings, especially his calls to new evangelization and to encounter Christ in the scriptures to build a personal relationship with him.

"The Holy Father has been a tremendous influence in my life," said Deacon Simon Carey of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

"I would consider myself part of the Pope Benedict generation because I have been in formation for my priesthood while he has been in office," he added.

"I will take with me for my whole life all that he has given to us and to the Church," Deacon Carey stated.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/World.php?id=7077#ixzz2La0pAVuk

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