Seven years ago, my best friend handed me a red ballpoint pen along with one of my greatest responsibilities, “You can use it when you edit my paper.”
Throughout the following years in seminary formation, that red ballpoint has been resting with my other pens in a mug showing The Beatles walking Abbey Road. Along with random uses throughout the years, it was also used to edit my own Master’s thesis. And each time the red line curls to comment, I remember when it was given to me. I remember that friendship solidifying between two men in formation when it was realized they could trust one another with their work, their input, their opinions. And, as so many friendships often require, corrections.
When I was named editor of Seminarian Casual, the honor came with challenges I never thought would be part of my time in the seminary. A man who still uses a red pen now taking over an online blog? But, I was not meant to go into the challenge alone. I was given a partner in Matthew Kuna, who was always willing to take the reins when I was pulled into another direction. His help and support proved not only a benefit but a necessity as the year drew closer and closer to ordination. We had an excellent system that kept the articles coming in and being published. The continued legacy of Seminarian Casual continued, and still had a way to go. But, our road made a turn we did not chart on our map.
Towards the end of the Fall semester, Matthew and I learned how an entire vision can be blinded when a problem occurs behind the scenes. In one day, we learned that the blog was no longer available, and in another we learned that it may never be available again. All the years of articles along with the future of seminarians’ work was now gone. While I was in the Holy Land, I was also knowing that the future of Seminarian Casual was no longer a sure thing. I was also considering what other avenues we could take if we were to decide to pull the plug on the project. I imagined the past articles no longer being present, seminarians not being able to publish their work. And the worst of it all, people not being able to read it. I wondered if we could go to a printed version of Seminarian Casual. But Matthew stood by me and the site. He knew how much of a shame it would be if we were to lose everything so many seminarians have worked on. Then, Cait Kokolus stepped in, and worked with the account to bring us back to life. In the Spring semester, I had the privilege of announcing to the seminary community that Seminarian Casual was back!
Taking this great experience into account, I am not only happy, but I am confident to name Matthew Kuna as the new editor of Seminarian Casual. During this year of working with him, I not only had someone I could rely on to get the work done, but I had someone who was always looking toward the best case scenario even when that seemed too distant. While I am pleased to call him my brother, I am honored to call him my friend. I made this decision public at the end of this Spring semester when the seminary community gathered for the Clap-Out. After ringing the bell to announce my departure, I walked down the long hall of seminarians’ clapping and cheering. But, I did not make an immediate exit. I stopped before Matthew Kuna. There was one thing I had to leave behind. With confidence surrounding us, and so many eyes on the future, I unclipped my red ballpoint pen from my cassock and presented it to him along with the trust with which it was handed to me seven years ago.
Though I will no longer be involved in Seminarian Casual, I will still be a reader. Working on the blog has been a great pleasure, and I look forward to what I will read coming from the minds of seminarians in the many years following this one.