Summertime means a vacation for students although such a break may not always remain conducive to continuous learning.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe offers a program for seminarians (those who are preparing for the priesthood) to train them for their future as a parish priest. Seminarian Joseph Magoffe participates in the parish assignment program from May 28 to July 16 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Taos.
Magoffe graduated from Moriarty High School in 2015, where he participated in track and field, 4-H and Future Farmers of America. At the time, the family owned two horses, and Magoffe showed pigs, sheep, rabbits, chickens and goats.
Magoffe served at Mass from the third grade on. During these years, he considered a vocation as a priest off and on.
"Right out of high school, I entered the seminary. The archbishop looks over the records and assigns a seminarian to a place to learn," Magoffe said. "I was sent to Pontifical College, also known as the Josephenium, in Columbus, Ohio. The school has a rigorous curriculum, but I feel it's a good fit for me. The first parish assignment usually occurs between the junior and senior year of college or between the fourth year of philosophy and the first year of theology studies. I'm entering the fourth year of minor seminary (philosophy), or my senior year of college. I'm studying catechism and philosophy in general-- St. Thomas Aquinas, Plato, Aristotle.
"I was very happy to receive the assignment to Taos," said Magoffe. "In seminarian circles, coming here is a coveted position."
During the interview, Magoffe revealed a joke that seminarians share about their life and schooling. "According to my fellow students, we eat, sleep, pray and study a little," he laughed. The seminarian is the first to agree that seminary life includes lots of prayer.
Seminarian Magoffe grew up in the Estancia Valley Catholic parish, which is about the same size as Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Taos. He said Edgewood, where he lived, was a suburb of Albuquerque.
The eldest of three children born to Tamara and James Magoffe, Joseph lived with siblings Stanley, a 17-year-old senior at Moriarty High School, and Michael, 13, an eighth-grader at Edgewood Middle School. Joseph's mother Tamara serves as the director of religious education at the Estancia Valley Parish. His father is safety manager for HVAC Services, a heating, air conditioning and cooling industrial company.
The seminarian enjoys his current assignment because he strongly feels that "the mountain" accepted him. The Legend of Taos Mountain (Pueblo Peak) states that one must receive acceptance from the mountain for a good residency.
If "the mountain" doesn't accept you, then it will banish you. He loves the people and the culture and notes the difference between Northern New Mexico and the Edgewood area where he was raised.
"I had never come to 'el norte.' Our family went to Clovis and Las Cruces to visit because we had friends and family, especially with a New Mexico State University connection," said Magoffe.
"However, I always knew that I had 'norte blood.' My grandpas were born and raised in Las Vegas, Villanueva and Mora. I realized something about the norteños: these are my people, and this is my heritage. I have come here to experience it."
The seminarian's duties include helping the pastor, Father Daniel Gutierrez, deacons Donald Martinez and Jerry Quintana at Masses, weddings, anniversaries, funerals and burials and other special parish events.
Some of his experiences include viewing the mystery painting at St. Francis Parish and enjoying the Taos Plaza. He participated in walking for a segment of the recent Pilgrimage for Vocations from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church to El Prado to Taos Pueblo.
Because of a prior engagement, Magoffe couldn't participate in the event for an entire week. At Taos Pueblo, he experienced the native foods of horno (oven) bread and sopa (bread pudding).
Throughout his stay in Taos, self-avowed "sweet tooth" Magoffe also enjoyed natillas (a type of pudding), biscochitos (thin) and green and red chile enchiladas. "It's wonderful to be immersed in the culture of Northern New Mexico because I'm a part of it. I loved hanging out with the youth group and my hike to Williams Lake," said Magoffe.
"I love hearing Deacon Donald Martinez sing "Bendito, Bendito.' I'm grateful for the mentorship of Father Daniel Gutierrez," added Magoffe.
Magoffe's favorite spare time activities include hiking and fishing. He enjoys cooking, and his edible specialties include Italian food, enchiladas and tacos. He hopes to learn to make sopa soon.
After his stint at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Magoffe plans to participate in a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain for a week and to Fatima, Portugal for a week. The Te Deum Foundation provides funds and activities for seminarians as a learning program. Magoffe values the spirit of pilgrimage for his vocation. He feels especially honored that the group will visit Santiago de Compostela on the saint's feast day.
For now, however, seminarian Joseph Magoffe chooses to dwell on the present. "I feel it's wonderful to be able to connect to my roots and meet different families and the history of Taos. I'm here to experience how to deal with people," Magoffe said. "This is my opportunity to understand people-- their hurts and problems, such as drug abuse, single family life and suicides at the Río Grande Gorge Bridge. Problems are more obvious because this is a small town. It's important for me to learn how to deal with people's problems as a future clergyman. This firsthand experience is truly valuable."