COMMUNITY GARDEN DRAWS PARALLELS TO PASTORAL WORK
Not long after his arrival to the Seminary College last summer, Assistant Dean of Students Fr. Sam Fontana and several seminarians resurrected the community garden, located near the Abbey Youth Festival field. Fr. Vic Messina started the garden several years ago, but it has remained fallow in recent years.
Fr. Sam, who came here from St. Joseph Parish in Rayne, La., is involved in all aspects of formation, including teaching philosophy classes and facilitating formation seminars and advising. He also works closely with President-Rector Fr. Gregory Boquet and Dean of Students Fr. Jonathan Wallis in the day-to-day operations of the college.
With the garden still in the early stages of the revamping process, the men had more space than they could cultivate at the time, so they planted over-winter covers of vetch, rye, peas, red clover, and mustard. The plan is to have continual cultivation with minimal tillage, and give some vegetables away in the process. Fr. Sam hopes to experiment with alfalfa, oats, and cowpeas this fall.
Although working in the garden gives Fr. Sam time to decompress each workday, the time spent there also provides some proper groundwork for the future pastoral work of the seminarians and presents opportunities to learn new skills and practice good stewardship.
"The garden is a good analogy for the spiritual life in general and pastoral work specifically: all growth takes time, patience, and much attention to small things. I try to encourage the men to notice what is happening in the garden before we get to work on anything. We are first observers and receivers of the place; otherwise, we might end up upsetting the natural order of things. And I remind them that we don't own any of this-that our goal is always to leave the soil better than when we found it, to leave it for others," Fr. Sam said.