Pastor’s Keyboard: Where in the world is our Pastor? This weekend I had to lead a retreat for young men discerning the priesthood. Nearly 20 high school age young men will be on retreat at Saint John Paul II Seminary for three days this weekend trying to hear whether the Lord might be calling them to discern more deeply a vocation to the priesthood. As one of two Assistant Vocation directors, for the Archdiocese, I’m always expected to help. As many of you know, we are very blessed to have many seminarians preparing for the priesthood, yet their numbers have not risen to replacement rates. Meaning that any given year we retire or bury more priest then we ordain. This is the reason that the Archdiocese has to often give multiple ministries to priest like me (2 parishes, chaplain to a college and high school, chaplain to the Boy Scouts for the Archdiocese, and Assistant Vocation Director). In the past, both of the parishes and the high school had their own priest. Now I do all six, not because the Cardinal thinks I’m good at multitasking (I am not), but because we have a real shortage of priest. We are still blessed. We have many more young men accepting the call then most places in the US, yet the number of Catholics fortunately continues to rise. I tell you all this to beg you to pray for more vocations. Offer up sacrifices for more vocations. Encourage young men in our parish and in your family to consider the priesthood. Please pray for us, who are in the field, doing our best to do the task of many with the limitations of being one (though one with the Lord, which makes all the difference).
Recently a young man, who is discerning the priesthood, said to me one of the best compliments I’ve ever heard. He said the happiest people he has ever known are priest and seminarians. I thought how true this has been for me. I never could have imagined as a young man being so fulfilled and happy as a priest. Like parenthood, it is at times exhausting, seemingly an impossible task with impossible expectations on me. However, yet every year I find myself more in love with the Lord and with the service I am called to give to his people. Sadly, the media rarely pays attention to the vast majority of priest who are happy, fulfilled, and striving to live lives of holiness. My hope is that if this young man can recognize and see what God can do in the life of one who seeks to give God everything, and can see how fulfilling it truly can be, others will too. I hate being away from the parish as much as I’ve had to be as of late, but I pray that I might return to you more rested, more holy, and with a few more following behind who are willing to pick up the burden after me and to walk and serve in the vineyards of the Lord. Please pray for these young men on retreat and for me as well.
Your Father and Brother in Christ,