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Seminarians encourage faithful to contribute to Burse Fund

Collection will be taken up this weekend at all parishes, as well as online

Miami's newest priests pose with Archbishop Thomas Wenski after their ordination in May 2022. From left: Father Agustin Estrada, currently serving at St. Gregory in Plantation; Father Enzo Rosario Prendes, currently serving at Sts. Peter and Paul in Miami; and Father Cesar Betancourt, currently serving at St. John Neumann in Miami.


Miami's newest priests pose with Archbishop Thomas Wenski after their ordination in May 2022. From left: Father Agustin Estrada, currently serving at St. Gregory in Plantation; Father Enzo Rosario Prendes, currently serving at Sts. Peter and Paul in Miami; and Father Cesar Betancourt, currently serving at St. John Neumann in Miami.

MIAMI | Archdiocesan priests should live their lives according to the model of St. John Vianney, says Archbishop Thomas Wenski. That is, they should “give themselves totally to the service of the Gospel and the pastoral care of souls.”

That’s exactly what three archdiocesan seminarians are preparing for: to serve the faithful of South Florida as priests.

The archdiocese currently has 57 men studying for the priesthood at St. John Vianney Seminary in Miami and St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

But they need the support of the faithful to complete those studies. And that support comes through contributing to the annual Burse Fund collection, to be taken up in parishes at all Masses this weekend, Aug. 6 and 7. Contributions also can be made online via this link:

“The collection is timed to take place on or near the feast of St. John Mary Vianney, the Cure d’Ars, patron saint of the diocesan clergy,” explained the archbishop in a letter announcing this year’s collection. The feast day is August 4.

“This fund assists the archdiocese through an endowment that supports the tuition costs of educating our future priests,” the archbishop added.

Three of those future priests shared their thoughts about their vocation and what they envision for their priesthood in their native languages: English, Spanish and Creole. They also thanked all those who make their studies possible by contributing to the Burse Fund.



Deacon Andrew Vitrano-Farinato

Photographer: COURTESY

Deacon Andrew Vitrano-Farinato

Deacon Andrew Vitrano-Farinato, from St. Mark Parish in Southwest Ranches, said he wants to be a priest “for the salvation of souls and my own salvation.”

The fourth-year theology student at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary noted that “we all share in the universal call to holiness. However, this universal call does not limit us to one track, thereby producing ‘cookie-cutter’ saints. Each of us responds to this call in and through our own unique vocations.”

He added: “For my part, prayer and discernment has led me to recognize that I can best respond to this call by pursuing a vocation to the priesthood. As a seminarian, and now as a transitional deacon, my own response to the universal call to holiness has given me the privilege of accompanying the Christian faithful in their own response to the call to holiness. To the men and women who have contributed to the Seminary Burse Fund, thank you; it is thanks to your generosity and magnanimity that I can pursue the call to holiness for myself and for others through a vocation to the priesthood.”



Andrés Papa, from St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Miami, is currently in his second year of pre-theology studies at St. John Vianney Seminary.

Seminarian Andres Papa

Photographer: COURTESY

Seminarian Andres Papa

He called the priesthood “a great gift from God” and the “opportunity to be [God’s] instruments for the salvation of souls.”

He added that he is most grateful to the Lord “for calling me to this beautiful vocation” and noted that “there is nothing I desire more than to be a priest.”

Here are his comments, which he wrote in Spanish:

“El sacerdocio es un gran regalo de Dios. Es una oportunidad para ser instrumentos de Él para la salvación de las almas. Los sacerdotes son llamados a entregar sus vidas por amor a Dios y a los demás, para llevar a las personas a Dios y Dios a las personas. Yo estoy muy agradecido con el Señor por llamarme a esta hermosa vocación y no hay nada que desearía más que ser sacerdote. Les agradezco inmensamente a ustedes y a todos los que ayudan y contribuyen para nuestra formación. Gracias y que Dios los bendiga.”



“Each and every one of us has a vocation, but our first vocation is to become holy,” said seminarian Rikinson Bantou, from St. Clement Parish in Fort Lauderdale. He is currently in his pastoral year at St. John Vianney Seminary.

Seminarian Rikinson Bantou

Photographer: COURTESY

Seminarian Rikinson Bantou

Bantou noted that he grew up in the Church. His parents took him to church every Sunday and after receiving his first Communion, he joined the choir and began serving at his parish.

“I came to discover the love of continuing to serve the Church as a priest,” he wrote in Creole. He added that he is studying for the priesthood “to be able to stay in God's love and to contemplate his beauty, secondly to serve his people by helping them stay in his love.”

Here is his comment in Creole:

“Mwen fèt epi grandi nan yon fanmy katolik. Paran'm yo te toujou mennen’m legliz chak dimanch epi lapriyè avè'm chak swa avan mwen dòmi pou’m te ka gen lafwa ki soude nan Granmèt la. Gras ak akonpanyeman yo, mwen resevwa sakreman inisyasyon yo (Batèm, Ekaristi epi konfimasyon). Aprè mwen te fini resevwa sakreman ekaristi, mwen te vin enfant de choeur (sèvan lote) nan pawas kote mwen te fèt la. Tout piti mwen t’ap grandi nan sèvis legliz la, mwen vin ap dekouvri lanmou pou’m kontinye sèvi legliz la kòm pè. Mwen grandi ak lanmou sa ki fè lèm fini etid klasik mwen, mwen deside antre nan seminè pou'm vin fè pè. Mwen vle vin pè premyeman pou’m ka rete nan lanmou Bondye epi pou'm kontanple bèlte'l, dezyèman pou sèvi pèp li a nan ede’l rete nan renmen'l lan. Nou tout e nou chak genyen yo vokasyon, men premye vokasyon nou se pou nou vin sen. ‘Sen men’m jan avèk papa nou ki sen’. Nan divès vokasyon sa yo andan legliz la, nou vle mete an evidence si la yo ki ap sipòte jèn ki nan fòmasyon pou vin pè pou ka selebre la mès ak sakreman yo pou yo. A la bèl sa bèl nap ede’n pou’n ka vin ede’n. Mèsi twòp piti pou nou ta di nou pou sa nou ye e fè pou nou, men elas nou pa gen lòt mo pou’n di’n pou’n montre jan nou rekonesan avè nou. Nap kontinye lapriye pou nou pou bondye kap toujou ban nou posibilite pou kontinye vokasyon’n nan legliz li a.”

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Comments from readers

Valli Leone - 08/05/2022 08:11 PM
With a grateful heart, I thank the Lord and these young faithful men who have decided to give their lives for the glory of our God and the joy of spreading the Gospel. Holy Spirit, grant them every grace and the strength needed to see them through their ordination days and beyond. May you be glorified and give them supernatural joy in their priesthoods all the days of their lives. Alleluia! 🔆🕊🔆