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Experiencing the Church without a leader Print
Guest column
Written by Joe Baker, For the Catholic Herald   
Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2013 -- 11:28 AM
Seminarian Joe Baker in Rome is pictured with the Vatican in the background. (Contributed photo)

Editor’s note: This is the second of a series of reflections on recent events happening at the Vatican by Diocese of Madison seminarians studying in Rome.

As a seminarian, it is impossible to escape the curiosity of others. There are always questions about what it is like living in a seminary, what you study, how often do you pray, what do you do for fun, etc.

While these types of questions can be expected, it has been hard to explain to family and friends what it has been like living in Rome these past days.

First and foremost, it seems as though the media is everywhere! Here at the North American College, there are always interviews going on in the center courtyard or on the roof overlooking St. Peter’s. Not only that, but everyday things, like praying in the chapel or eating lunch, have become matters of great interest for camera crews.

But more than anything, the most unique part of these last few days has been experiencing the Church without her visible head, the pope.

Being in Rome and living right next door to the Vatican, you feel an extreme closeness with the Holy Father. Normally, there is a nearly tangible level at which the Holy Father’s presence can be felt.

As such, more than anything, this time has been characterized by a deep sense that something is lacking and that something life-giving is missing from the Church.

Therefore, let us join ourselves in prayer to the cardinals as they elect the 266th Successor of St. Peter, our new spiritual leader, the next Holy Father.


Joe Baker is a first year theology student studying at the North American College in Rome.