“I was born in the wrong time period!” Be Quiet, No You Weren’t


Sometimes I think how awesome it would be if I were born during the Renaissance, the height of the Roman Empire, or the roarin’ 20’s. But I wasn’t, ya know?

In pretty much every class I’m taking this semester, the first couple of weeks started out with a survey of the Old Testament and an overview of first century Jewish culture as it pertains to the topic of the particular class. We read the New Testament in light of the Old, and the Old as being fulfilled in the New. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to be a pharisee, living scrupulously under the Mosaic law. Or what if I was among those present to hear the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 or the Eucharistic Discourses in John 6? Would I have believed or turned away? But I wasn’t born then, ya know?

A professor at Mundelein recently said something that has been in my head over the last week. He said, “Never lose sight of the fact that your being here is, in itself, a miracle.” He didn’t mean that Ryan Adorjan is God’s gift to the Church and, oh, what a miracle it is that I’m here. No, he meant that it really is a miracle that today in 2015 there is a place (lots of places actually) where 225 men have chosen to come and prepare to serve the Lord and his Church as priests. In the eyes of the predominant culture, we’re all nuts.

What’s more of a miracle is that I, Ryan Adorjan, this particular person, with all my talents and shortcomings, grace-filled moments and horrible pitfalls, the entirety of my being – the good, the bad, and the ugly – have been called here to this particular place at this particular time in the history of the world and of the Church.

“Your parents wanted a child, but God wanted you.” Thomas Merton

My parents wanted me insofar as they wanted a child, but they didn’t choose what I would look like or what kind of personality I would have or what I was going to do with my life; all of that (and lots more) was up to God. But God wanted me because he already knew me before he even created me in my mother’s womb. (Jeremiah 1:5) It is no accident, first of all, that I’m here (#duh), but more than this it is no surprise or accident that I, this person, am here, at this particular place, in this particular moment in history.

And as with me, so with all of us. You weren’t born at the wrong time, you are not a mistake; you are loved. My friend Fr. Paul Murray always says that you should “value yourself by what you have cost.” That somewhere, in the context of first century Judaism, a man named Jesus of Nazareth lived and suffered and died for you. “Value yourself by what you have cost,” Father Murray says, “and realize what you are.”

Be happy, be healthy, be HOLY, be you.

In Christ,

Remembering my Friend: Eulogy for Father Gerold Schubert, OFM


This eulogy was delivered at the funeral Mass for Father Gerold Schubert, OFM on August 5, 2015 at St. Mary Immaculate Parish in Plainfield, Illinois. 

There are so many things I would like to say about my friend and spiritual father, Gerold Schubert, the priest. Two summers ago I was assigned to St. Mary Immaculate as a summer seminarian intern and had the opportunity to live with Father Gerold. During my time at St. Mary’s it became obvious to me that everybody not only knew Father, but loved him dearly as if he were their own brother, uncle, or grandfather; everyone in this church today could stand here and tell a thousand stories about this man of God, this man who, through his priestly commitment and witness to us as an alter Christus, another Christ, changed or deeply impacted the way we pray, the way we see and know the Lord, and the way we live our lives.

One of the first things I noticed when I moved in was the frequency with which Father Gerold used the phrase, “God bless you.” It was the way he told me a that my joke was funny (ha ha ha, GOD BLESS YOU), that he was surprised at something I said (Oh yeah? God bless you!), that he was proud of me (Wow, God bless you), and even the way he said goodbye (Heh, well, God bless you). I remember my last day at St. Mary’s, after I’d loaded up my car and was ready to leave I found Father diligently inspecting his new scooter sidewalk that had just been put in connecting his house to the St. Mary’s parking lot. He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, “so soon?” He then put his hand on my head and gave the most meaningful “God bless you” of all, not just because it was in Latin, but because it was a blessing from the pure hands of a good and faithful priest, a life-long servant of Jesus Christ whose hands and body had become frail and worn from the work of the vineyard. Father Gerold was a man whose mission was obvious: to bring the blessing and the grace and healing and the mercy and the love of the King of kings and the Lord of lords to a hungry, lonely, desperate world. He never lacked the energy or time to stop and raise his hand in blessing, knowing full well he was not standing merely in the shoes of Gerold Schubert, but in the shoes of Jesus Christ.

Father Gerold never wanted to stop learning about how he could be more accessible and helpful to the people of God, especially in the countless hours he spent in the confessional here. Despite being ordained for more than 60 years and having been in the hands of the Franciscan order since high school, he was thirsty for knowledge. Each morning after daily Mass, we would come back to our house and he would turn on Relevant Radio, notepad in hand, and take notes for the next two hours about whatever Father Robert Barron wanted to tell him. He was also engaged in the study of scripture, world religions, the Comcast cable manual, and the behavior of “you 21st century seminarians.” Father Gerold wanted to be a conduit of the grace of God in every moment, so that in every moment he might be able to reach out to someone else, to touch the life of someone else, and bring them the blessing and the presence of God.

Father Gerold also loved to encourage the people here to allow Jesus into their lives and hearts. I remember the first time I went to confession with Father. I went in to the confessional, and knelt down behind the screen as I always do. From behind the screen I heard the familiar line I would often hear whenever I came home too late, “hey, is somebody there?” He said, in the gentlest way possible, “what are you doing behind the screen? I don’t bite, you know. There’s no reason to be afraid in this moment; there’s no reason to be afraid of Jesus.” Fr. Gerold showed me that there is no reason to be afraid of Jesus or of the life that he is asking me to live in his name. To all people, in this parish and everywhere we went, his familiar chorus which echoed that famous slogan of St. John Paul II, taken from the words of Christ himself: DO NOT BE AFRAID. Do not be afraid because Jesus is near and Jesus is love, and “perfect love casts out all fear.” 1 John 4:18

Somewhere between our afternoon discussions of politics and the current events as told by Fox News and our late-night hangout sessions which consisted of watching re-runs of COPS and eating Oreos, Father Gerold showed me what it means to be a priest. He showed that no matter where you’re from or what kind of ministry you’re doing, you have to be Jesus for the people of God. People want a lot of things from the world, but the only want one thing from their priests: the Heart of Jesus. And so the priest must not be afraid of going out to teach and preach and heal, but more than this, he must not be afraid of being rescued, over and over, by the blood of Jesus. Father Gerold showed me the drama and joy of the priesthood and just how fulfilling his life as a priest really was.

Father Gerold, if I can be half the priest that you were, I shall die a blessed and happy man.

To live in the midst of the world
without wishing its pleasures;
To be a member of each family,
yet belonging to none;
To share all suffering;
to penetrate all secrets;
To heal all wounds;
to go from men to God
and offer Him their prayers;
To return from God to men
to bring pardon and hope;
To have a heart of fire for Charity,
and a heart of bronze for Chastity
To teach and to pardon,
console and bless always.
My God, what a life;
and it is yours,
O priest of Jesus Christ.

A Priest – Lacordaire

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.


Lima Life #9: Final Thoughts and Machu Picchu (and Toews, too)


Hello from Lima! I’ve just arrived back at the beautiful Edificio Bolivar from our weekend in Cuzco and Machu Picchu. What a place! Cuzco is a great little city way up in the Andes that, I think, offers a more authentic Peruvian experience than Lima…or, perhaps, just a “different” experience of Peruvian culture and life.

Plaza de Armas - Cuzco
Plaza de Armas – Cuzco

Jim and I spent Friday night and Saturday exploring Cuzco, learning about the Incans, and trying not to have asthma attacks. Also, we ate an Alpaca burger (definitely recommended, but only once).

Sunday, we took a collectivo (a small van) to the town of Ollantaytambo, an Incan town, to catch the train to Aguas Calientes.

Main Square in Ollantaytambo
Main Square in Ollantaytambo
Peru Rail: Metra of the Mountains
Peru Rail: Metra of the Mountains

After spending some time on Peru Rail getting to know some awesome Indian-turned-Canadian Catholics, we arrived in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, and settled in for the night.

Aguas Calientes: The Camino in Spain meets the Wisconsin Dells
Aguas Calientes: The Camino in Spain meets the Wisconsin Dells

We woke up at 4am on Monday and were in line by 5….people had been lining up for the buses (which don’t start until 5:30, by the way) since 3:30am! The early morning is one of the most popular times of day to get to the park in order to see the sun come up over the mountains.

IMG_1565[1] IMG_1543[1]

So yeah, we saw the sun rise.

Then we hiked and hiked and took it all in. If you want to see more pics, here they are.

Then, this happened. But you already know the whole story. (In case you don’t)


It’s weird to think that Lima is almost over. As anyone who’s been following these updates for the last 9 weeks knows, I was not excited about coming and it was not all conejos and rosas. I was very sick for about 3 weeks and there just other “day to day” struggles that really began to take a toll. Before long, I was “at my wit’s end” as they say.

Non-coincidentally, the exact same thing happened in Rome, for the most part. By the time the last month rolled around, I was ready to pull my hair out (you can see that I did, in fact, attempt it). But then I went on pilgrimage to France with the other seminarians and our chaplain and experience a total rejuvenation of spirit, body, and mind. Something very similar happened while on the trip to Machu Picchu. God’s providence was obvious in so many ways. He protected us from harm, made sure everything went smoothly, but most importantly put people and experiences into our path that had a profound impact on me and really helped me to refocus and remember Who it is I love.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces.” C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain 

God is love. He’s not just a nice deity, or a loving dude. He is love itself. And he loves us through his creation. God loves me through ice cream cones and fun nights at Chilis and beautiful nature. This week, he loved me through the Andes mountains, the two couples we met on Peru Rail, an Alpaca burger, and even a hockey star.

After this trip, I’m learning in totally new ways not to take anything for granted, but to see God and his will and his provident care in everything. I do not worship Him out of obligation or fear, but out of love…because I love Him and He loves me and I want to be able to love the world and the people of God I will serve one day as a priest as He has loved me: personally, perfectly, passionately, perpetually. This is my hope, and this my prayer.

Once more from Lima, may God bless you and guide, and be with you wherever you go.

In Christ,

Lima Life #8: “…He Made a Hippo that Weighs a Ton”


Another week over, a new one just begun.

Can you believe it? Tomorrow starts the last week of Spanish class at El Sol, and I must admit that it will be a little sad to leave. I have had such an awesome time getting to know the other students from all over the world and having the opportunity to be taught by some of the best professors (laughing our heads off all along the way, of course). I think leaving the school and my host family will be the two reasons that leaving Lima will be sad. I can do without the noise and pollution and, while the views and ocean are very nice, for me it is about the people. Places and things pass away, one by one or sometimes all at once, but it’s always the people who mean the most to me. Even if there are people that I don’t particularly like, I’m stronger and better for having known them. And it’s the memories of the time I spend with others that make the best souvenirs.

Yesterday, Jimmy and I went to the zoo! We were joined by a new friend from Indiana who is also studying at the school. The place is enormous and there are all kinds of neat animals. Lots of the usual suspects, but also a lot of cool Central and South American animals, especially birds. Very tiring for me to walk around the place but certainly vale la pena (worth the pain).

We also took a trip to “the Centro”, aka downtown Lima where a lot of the historic, colonial buildings are. I’ve been down there a number of times already but yesterday was the first time I was able to see the Cathedral Museum which featured a little exhibit of my patron saint and spiritual grandpa SAINT JOHN XXIII.


Last week I finished reading a biography of him by some priests from his home diocese of Bergamo in Italy. It’s the second biography about him I’ve read and this one was definitely my favorite. We are so blessed to know so much not just about what happened in his life but we are also offered a glimpse into his mind and heart through his personal diary, Journal of a Soul. It’s the only document of its kind in existence; it is the personal diary of Angelo Roncalli (John XXIII) starting from the time he was 14 as a high school seminarian in Bergamo and ended with his death as Pope John XXIII in Rome. It’s a huge book…I’ve been working on it for over two years. Not really a very good “afternoon at the beach” kind of book, but well, well worth it.

Here’s a glimpse at what’s ahead: This week we will finish classes. Every friday the school has a little graduation ceremony for each of the students who are leaving that week. I’m looking forward to it, especially because there’s always Pisco. Immediately after that, Jimmy and I head to the airport and fly to Cusco, where we will spend Saturday exploring. Sunday we take a bus (read: home-school van) to a town with a very odd name (Ollantaytambo) where we will catch a train for Aguas Caliente, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. Monday morning we will enter Machu Picchu and spend the day exploring. We hope to catch the sunrise from there, so please pray that it works out. Monday evening we trek it back to Cusco via train and fly back to Lima on Tuesday. Tuesday night and Wednesday will be spent packing and saying goodbye to our friends and host families in Lima as we head to the airport Wednesday evening for our overnight flight to Miami. Jimmy and I will arrive in Chicago around 9:00am on Thursday, July 30.

Please keep us a in your prayers this week. I’d love to keep you in mine.


In Christ,

*A note about the title: it’s a line from a children’s song we teach at Totus Tuus, which is a Catholic day camp. I thought it was relevant cuz we went to the zoo. Don’t judge me.

Lima Life #7: “All of My Children are Dead”


Hello from Peru!

I want you all to know that I was well, physically speaking (still not sure about the ol’ brain), all week! How wonderful. Sunday we went to Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Lima, celebrated by His Eminence Juan Luis Cipriani, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Lima.

On Saturday, we said goodbye to one of the other Mundelein seminarians studying here with us. His host mother was kind enough to invite us over for a bit of a goodbye dinner. She informed us that one her friends who is “muy, muy, muy” Catholic would be stopping by to meet the famous “padrecitos”. This woman did come by and was so funny to meet and chat with. She spoke very good English which made the conversation very natural.

One thing led to another, and she began to tell us about her family. She said, “I have had five children. All five of them died….all of my children are dead.” She told us what their names were and when and how they died. She was strong and rooted in faith, but still full of anguish as she recalled, maybe for the thousandth time, the loss of each of her children.

Then she said something that struck me very profoundly. She asked, “What was Mary’s greatest moment of sorrow?” Our minds all turned to the moment of the crucifixion, Mary seeing Jesus die. Our friend said, “No. Look at the pieta. That is the moment of Mary’s greatest sorrow…holding her dead child in her arms knowing there’s nothing she could have done.”

Then she said this: “I consider it my greatest honor to be able to participate in this sorrow of the Blessed Mother.” 

I couldn’t believe it. Here is a woman who has experienced so much pain and considers it and honor to share in the greatest sorrow of Mary, uniting her suffering totally to Jesus. So, so moving.

I’ll leave for you the great blog of my friend, Lizzie, who you might remember from an earlier post. She’s just posted about something very relevant to this woman: the human’s yearning for eternity. We’re not made for this world. Let’s unite ourselves to the suffering Christ and to our suffering Mother who leads us to Jesus.

2 more weeks to go!

In Christ,

Lima Life #6: A Scary Sneeze and the Guy with the Gun


Hola de Lima! The time is really flying and is beginning to wind down…only three more weeks to go!

The last week was certainly an interesting one. It was only a four day week since Monday was a national holiday in Peru as the country celebrated the great Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul. “But wait,” you’re thinking, “that’s a religious thing! A national holiday for a religious thing?” Absolutely! Of course here the Church and state are separate, but can you really ever separate yourself from the driving force of your life and culture?

Entonces, thanks to all who have been sending their well-wishes for my health and asking for updates. For those who haven’t: seriously? We’re moving through the various stages and types of sicknesses. We’ve had the food poisoning and the vomiting and “tummy issues” and the fevers and the body aches. Currently we’re in the midst of the common cold. The climate in Lima and I do not get along. It’s technically winter here as I’ve mentioned before so the weather is very sporadic. It is cloudy and misty in the morning and sunny and hot after school. Or it’s real sunny in the morning so I don’t wear a coat and then it’s windy and raining for the walk home. We’re also being impacted by El Nino which I first learned about in an episode of something on the Disney Channel when I was probably 9, and so it’s neat that I get to experience it in real life.

The common cold is just that: common. Everybody gets a good ol’ cold once or twice a year or so and there’s not usually anything special or alarming about it. But when you’re away, as I’ve been blabbing on about over the last 3 weeks, being sick absolutely sucks. Suddenly the sneeze that you write off at Mundelein becomes a sure sign of Cholera while living in Peru. Ryan, tranquiillllooooo. Who’d have guessed that even a sneeze could be scary? I’m just ready to be done being sick so I can get out there and enjoy the last few weeks.

To celebrate the fourth of July, we all took a trip a la Embajada de los Estados Unidos in Lima and, man, what a compound. That place is massive.


There was a friendly Peruvian soldier stationed out front who was clearly watching us very closely even though we were practically the only people on the block. Then we tried take a picture with the sign but we got a little close and we got yelled at. What a compound. What a gun that guy had. Makes you feel good to be an American, actually. In a weird way.

No comments about my hair, please.
No comments about my hair, please.

Anyway, after that we had a nice dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe – Lima where I had my PULLED PORK and COCA COLA YESS followed by a too-legit-to-quit BROWNIE SUNDAE. It was a perfect night.

And to top it off, Jimmy got interviewed for a university documentary regarding his views about posting ads for prostitution in the newspapers.


Now all’s well that ends well I suppose. Here’s hoping this cold takes a hike so I can get back out there and enjoy the time that remains.

Please keep me in your prayers and I would love to keep you in mine.

In Christ,

Lima Life #5: Clinica Javier Prado and the Fountain


Lima Life #1, #2, #3, #4

Greetings all:

This week featured the final demise of last week’s illness, although it did not go out without a fight. While the details are literally disgusting, I did earn a nice little trip to the fantastic Clinica Javier Prado in the San Isidro district of Lima. In Peru, there are public hospitals and private clinics. The hospitals are generally overcrowded so the wait is very long for care that is not often very good. The clinics are private so if you’ve got the cash, that’s where you go. Naturally, I was pretty nervous about all of this because when you’re abroad anywhere, the clinic is the last place you want to be going. When we travel, we try to make sure that everything is ready and will go according to plan; we’ve set up flights, trains, hotels, car services, host families…..and while all of these things might fall through, there will always be another flight, another train, another taxi, another sunny day for the trip to the beach. But what about when your body fails? When a health emergency comes up? Because there won’t always be another body. When you meticulously plan every detail and then it’s….your body that doesn’t work? You have to be kidding!

But that’s happened to me twice now, and both times I got to experience a foreign health system. Both times I was petrified and ended up being pleasantly surprised. This time around, the director of my school took the morning off to personally take me to the clinic. I couldn’t believe that. She was so helpful in translating everything for me and making sure I understood. The doctor was a total boss (he reminded me of one of my uncles) and was super helpful and nice. He gave me some awesome meds (yes!). Before I went to the doctor on Friday I could not walk very well or sit down (long story) but now, Monday night, I’m running, sitting, and lying on my back like never before. Thanks, doc!

Earlier in the week we went to the Parque de la Reserva which is home to the Circuito Magico del Agua; basically it’s a big park filled with awesome fountains. At night, all of the fountains have awesome lighting and there is a huge show with the fountains synched up with music. Very neat. It was a great way to get out after being cooped up all of last weekend being sick and a great way to celebrate being halfway done with the program.

Went in the middle of a fountain, took a selfie, and lived to tell the tale.
Went in the middle of a fountain, took a selfie, and lived to tell the tale.

I’m sure what is in store this week, except for our super patriotic 4th of July plans…..but you’ll have to wait until next week to hear about that.

Just a reminder that if you have prayers or questions, anything is fair game.


In Christ,