Check out this interview with Fr. Tim Hepburn, the vocations director for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and former chaplain at Emory and Georgia Tech University. It’s good to hear his emphasis on evangelization and docility to the Holy Spirit. May the Lord bless his work!
I was just paging through a booklet published under the auspices of the United States Conference of Bishops entitled, “Lend Your Own Voice to Christ: A Helpful Guide for Priests to Call Forth Men to the Priesthood.”
The booklet was written by Fr. Thomas Richter, who for the past decade has served as vocation director for the Diocese of Bismarck.
Fr. Richter begins his presentation by giving us three “facts” that have been confirmed by many vocation-related surveys:
• Fact #1: The main reason young people do not consider the priesthood is because they have never been personally asked.
• Fact #2: Men first consider the priesthood because a priest encouraged them to consider it. Year after year, in surveys of classes of ordination, 80-88 percent of the men consistently report that it was a priest who invited them to consider the priesthood. Jesus calls men to the seminary and priesthood through a priest’s personal invitation encouraging them to consider it.
• Fact #3: The great majority of priests do not encourage men to consider a vocation to the priesthood. Surveys consistently show that only about 30 percent of priests actively invite men to consider the priesthood.
He then gives priests seven powerful lessons for calling forth young men to join them in ordained ministry.
This fine booklet, and several other vocations resources, may be found at the website for the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors.
I guess Fr. Richter’s work proves the old adage that “it never hurts to ask.”
Fr. Raymond de Souza offered a fitting tribute to the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus at the First Things blog in honor of the 20th anniversary of Fr. Neuhaus’ ordination as a Catholic priest. His ordination took place at St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie in 1991, a year after his reception into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Fr. de Souza noted that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York was present at Dunwoodie on the eve of the anniversary to kick off the new academic year, and he drew lessons from Fr. Neuhaus’ remarkable life.
“Few of you will have a life as public at Father Neuhaus had,” Archbishop Dolan said. “But we can all learn from him. The key to his life as a Christian disciple was that he always did his prayers in the morning before reading The New York Times. Prayer before penance, he would say!”
Fr. Neuhaus understood that holiness is an urgent matter for all. Therefore, he stressed that seminary and the priesthood ought to be a pilgrimage toward holiness. The long road of fidelity—of holiness—begins now. Father Neuhaus was fond of saying that the solution to our crises in the Church is fidelity, fidelity, fidelity!
Our first response to the spiritual and moral crises of our time must be our daily pursuit of holiness.
These priests have just established a new American foundation: the Canonry of St. Leopold, in Long Island, New York. Click here for the second part of the interview and for more information on supporting their mission. You may also check them out on Facebook.
The canons’ blending of community life with diocesan ministry offers new possibilities for U.S.-based priests.
I thought I would end a busy week with this uplifting post from the Catholic Sentinel in Portland, Oregon. It’s about what Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland called “The Magnificent Seven“–the seven men ordained for the archdiocese in 2009. This was their largest ordination class since the 1970s.
The article checks in on them, two years later.
All of the new priests seem to be thriving, despite the many personal and pastoral challenges, and happy in their vocation.
One of the priests, Fr. David Jaspers, has already performed more than 620 baptisms, which amounts to one every 28 hours. Not bad!
Another of the priests, Fr. Theodore Lange, beautifully summed up his call to ministry this way: “My joy comes from surrending to God’s will and allowing the vocation to form my life.”
“Magnificent” might be a bit much, but the “Seven” are good and faithful servants who are already making a difference in the Pacific Northwest. God bless them!
Fr. Z took time out from his Fourth of July holiday to grace his readers with the following top ten list of qualities of prospective priests today:
1. Prospective priests (Religious or Diocesan) are not looking primarily for community life, as we live it. They are looking for a Church-related mission that they believe in.
2. Prospective priests want to know what the Pope teaches, not what the U.N. teaches.
3. Prospective priests do not want to sit around with older “veterans” and listen to the latter whine about the Pope, Rome and the bishops.
4. Prospective priests are not in favor of women’s ordination. Period.
5. Prospective priests do not want to attend Masses that resemble hootenannies, Quaker meetings, or Presbyterian services.
6. Prospective priests are not ashamed of the Pro-life movement, they’re for it.
7. Prospective priests do not want to hear their brothers mock the Pope and gripe about liturgical norms.
8. Prospective priests do not want to study at theological unions/seminaries that are embarrassed by Catholic teaching.
9. Prospective priests know that Vatican II was not the only, or even the most important, Ecumenical Council.
10. Prospective priests are not embarrassed by Marian devotion, and are seen praying the Rosary.
I think this list is pretty accurate. I would say with respect to point one that prospective priests today tend to be inspired by the call for a “new evangelization.” Some feel a greater need for community life than others. Others who may not have thought much about it before seminary come to recognize the value of some form of community life, even as a diocesan priest.
What do you think of Fr. Z’s list?
Meaghan Boland first felt the call to religious life at age 16. She was preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
“It was just kind of the whole preparation,” she said.
Also, in high school, she went on a youth retreat, where she spent time in the presence of Our Lord.
“That drew me into the adoration piece,” she explained.
Meaghan’s faith continued to deepen.
So her parents, Thomas and Virginia Boland, were not surprised by Meaghan’s recent announcement that she wanted to join a convent.
But there was an unexpected twist three years ago when Meaghan’s older brother, James, discerned he had too a vocation. Continue reading Siblings Following Path to Priesthood, Religious Life
Sometimes it’s really difficult to decide upon just the right anniversary gift. However, I think our readers will agree that the following recommendation from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for the upcoming 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s priestly ordination–Eucharistic adoration for priestly vocations–is right on the money.
Church to Observe Pope’s 60th Anniversary of Ordination June 29th
WASHINGTON (May 26, 2011)—Catholics worldwide are asked to mark the sixtieth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s ordination to the priesthood with sixty hours of Eucharistic prayer for vocations.
The pope will celebrate his anniversary June 29, the Solemnity of St. Peter and Paul. In honor of his anniversary, the Vatican Congregation for Clergy suggested Catholic clergy and faithful be invited to participate in Eucharistic Adoration with the intention of praying for the sanctification of the clergy and for the gift of new and holy priestly vocations.
Dioceses nationwide are planning special prayers before the Blessed Sacrament in June, offered continuously or across various days in the month. Continue reading A Fitting Anniversary Gift
The Diocese of Marquette, serving Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (“UP”), recently produced an outstanding 15-minute documentary on vocations, especially to diocesan priesthood, entitled “Answering the Lord’s Call.” This program aired at various times this past weekend on local television networks, and it may be viewed online.
Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette appears at the outset of the video, setting the tone for the entire program as he explains why the promotion of vocations to the priesthood must necessarily be a pastoral priority. Throughout the video, Bishop Sample and various young priests and seminarians share their compelling stories, which all show forth the beauty of a life given to the service of Christ and the Church.
Phillip Owen, 26, says he has always felt the Blessed Mother watching over him. Born and raised in St. Luke Parish in River Forest, Owen is the eighth of 10 children in his family. The experience of growing up in a large family served him well, he said. “I learned at an early age what it meant to sacrifice, share with others, and be generous with my time,” he said. “My parents instilled in me the importance of sharing with others, being respectful of others, the importance of Sunday Mass, and the importance of daily prayer.”
He also learned the joy of assisting at liturgies when he was quite young, becoming an altar server after his first communion.
“As a young boy in grade school I enjoyed getting out of class to serve funerals on Tuesday mornings,” he recalled. “Looking back now, I believe that God blessed me with special graces for all the time I assisted at liturgy at a young age. My favorite thing to do was serve Benediction on Monday nights during the summer months. I believe that being surrounded by so much grace at a young age allowed me to say yes to the priesthood.” Continue reading Time-Tested Ingredients of a Priestly Vocation