Fraternity Seen Through Sonship and Sports

This article was originally written for the Seminary blog for the Archdiocese of Washington.

When I was accepted to Saint John Paul II Seminary, I did not know what to expect. I feared that I would not be as holy or as smart as the other guys. I feared that my personality would not mesh well with the guys in the house, and especially with my roommate. Now as my second semester begins, I have no concerns about the fraternity here. My brother seminarians are some of the most prayerful men I have ever seen, but it is not intimidating because, ultimately, we all have a profound love for the Lord and share the same goal: to grow in awareness of our beloved sonship to Our Heavenly Father. One particular way in which this became apparent to me is through the gift of sport.

The second semester started with a snow day, and how could you not play football on a snow day? A little over half of our house huddled up for a game of tackle football in a fresh eight inches of powdery snow. The energy and level of competition was apparent from the first hit Thomas Showalter put on Louis McHale. That competitive and joyful energy continued throughout the game, especially when my own roommate, Ray Gilmore, caught a touchdown pass over the head of Fr. Chris Seith. Winning can be fun, but the real beauty of sports here at the seminary is that we always begin and finish in prayer as a fraternity.

When beginning my second semester here, our Vice-Rector mentioned to us that we (the seminarians) make the house come alive. Coming back for second semester, I knew I could expect to focus in the library and enjoy great meals in the refectory, but those are not the best things here. The beauty of Saint John Paul II Seminary is found in these men, my brother seminarians, who enjoy the rigors of sport and snowy weather, or a mix of the two, and bond deeply in beloved sonship to the Father. Already reveling in fun memories of our fraternity, I am thankful to be a seminarian discerning my vocation in this house with these guys.

Psalm 127:

“Unless the Lord build the house,

    they labor in vain who build.

Unless the Lord guard the city,

    in vain does the guard keep watch…

Certainly sons are a gift from the Lord,

    the fruit of the womb, a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior

    are the sons born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them.”


John Paul Shanahan

About the Author: John Paul Shanahan

John Paul "Jack" Shanahan is a seminarian for the Diocese of Richmond in his first year of college at St. John Paul II Seminary.