A young Catholic seminarian from Lexington has been invited to serve with Pope Benedict XVI during Good Friday services at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Rob Adams, 21, is among a number of seminarians who will take part in the traditional service next week, which commemorates the day Christ was crucified and is most solemn day of the Christian year.
Adams is a seminary student at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. He has been in Rome since January, studying with several other seminarians from the school. His parents are Steve and Jane Adams of Lexington.
"The idea of Rob getting to go to Rome completely floored us in the first place," his mother said. "Then, when he sent an email saying that he was to serve with the Holy Father in Good Friday services, it was like, whoa. ... We feel very blessed, and so does he."
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An opportunity to participate in a service with the pope represents a singular honor for seminarians studying to become priests, says Tom Shaughnessy, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Lexington.
Rob Adams said in an email to the Herald-Leader that he is "definitely excited about the honor of serving with Pope Benedict XVI.
"When we came to Rome in January, we liked to joke about how great it would be if we could serve with the pope, but we never thought that it would happen," he said.
Adams has wanted to become a priest most of his life, although there's some family disagreement as to exactly when the dream began.
"He will tell you that he's known he would become a priest since eighth grade, although I remember it distinctly from at least fourth grade," Jane Adams said. "When you truly try to hear God's call to you, it's an ongoing process. You just try to listen and listen and then, as I like to say, you jump off the cliff of faith and try to follow the path."
Rob Adams attended Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary School in Lexington, then was home-schooled through high school. He enrolled at the University of St. Thomas to begin the long and demanding path to becoming a priest. He's on schedule for ordination in 2016, his mother says.
Adams is studying at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas, next to the Roman Forum in Rome. Pope John Paul II studied theology there.
"The seminary likes to see their men go to Rome because of the experience and the history," Jane Adams said. "You're around everything, able to see the Holy Father and walk the path that the apostles walked."
Rob Adams said he's fallen in love with the Eternal City but keeps up with news in Lexington online.
"Rome is disorganized and confusing ... but it still has a special charm," he said. "The Italians are wonderful people and they are very kind about helping visitors learn their language."
Jane Adams said her son is particularly pleased that he will be in Rome during the beatification of John Paul II on May 1.
"My son has a great devotion to John Paul II, and to me it's God's providence that would allow him to be there at this time," she said.
The Good Friday service at St. Peter's will begin at 5 p.m. Rome time, or 11 a.m. in Lexington. It will be telecast on EWTN, but if you don't have access to that cable channel, you can go to EWTN.com and see the service by clicking on the watch-listen button.
"We'll all be watching like crazy," Jane Adams said. "I'll be on pins and needles because that's what moms do."