The other week, I had the opportunity to take six young men to visit the seminary programs at Seton Hall University. On the ride back home, one of the men commented that his time with our seminarians really changed his perspective. “They were not what I expected. They were just normal guys like us.”
His reaction was not uncommon. Whenever people have the chance to interact with our seminarians, they come to see a group of joyful young men trying to respond to a call from the Lord. Their joy is rather inspiring and contagious. And they are “like us,” for they are men that come from parishes and schools in our diocese. Through the witness of the good example of their parents and different priests, they decided to continue their discernment of God’s call by taking the courageous step to enter the seminary.
We really are blessed with good, normal young men preparing for the priesthood from our diocese. We are blessed with a good number of men considering the seminary. But, we also know that there are men in our diocese the Lord is calling who have yet to hear that call, either because they cannot find the time to quiet down to hear his voice or because we have not invited them to consider it. And both things need to happen before a man can realize God’s call to the priesthood.
Raising awareness of vocations to the diocesan priesthood is the duty of all Catholic Christians. From time to time, we need to be reminded of that. Therefore, Bishop Sullivan has declared this coming weekend as Vocations to the Diocesan Priesthood Sunday, a weekend where every priest in the diocese will share his own story of God’s call in his life or how God has worked through him as a priest. Additionally, he will ask each of his parishioners to both pray that God bless our diocese with more priests and invite young men who might make good priests to think about the priesthood. Throughout the week, students in our Catholic Schools and Religious Education programs will hear about vocations and the need to listen for God’s voice in their lives. Furthermore, the bishop has composed a diocesan prayer for priestly vocations to be given to the families in our diocese so that they might often recite that prayer together.
Lived well, the priesthood is a joyful and blessed life. At times, we priests forget to let people know that, sharing it with others through our words and actions. This weekend is an opportunity to be reminded of the gift of the priesthood, the joy that comes from responding to the Lord’s call and the task of every one of us to beg the Lord to send us more priests as well as to encourage those men we think the Lord is inviting to labor in his vineyard. If we all do our part, then our diocese will have more joyful young men stepping up to the plate in service to the Church as priests.
Father Michael M. Romano is the Director of Priestly Vocations for the Diocese of Camden.
Bishop Sullivan’s prayer for priestly vocations
Lord Jesus, we ask you to bless the Diocese of Camden with an increase in vocations to the priesthood. We pray that young men from our parishes and families will hear your call and be both generous and courageous in their response. May more young men serve you as priests who teach the faith, preach the Gospel, celebrate the sacraments and make you present among us through their ministry. Encourage them to embrace the joy-filled and fulfilling life of a diocesan priest. May parents support priestly vocations in their families by prayer and good example. We entrust these prayers through Mary Immaculate, our patroness, hopeful that you will bless our diocese with more priests in the near future, who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
Holy Hour to foster vocations at a different parish each month
On Thursday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m., the Office of Vocations is holding its monthly Holy Hour for Vocations at Holy Eucharist Parish in Cherry Hill.
Every first Thursday of the month, a Holy Hour takes place in a different host deanery in the Camden Diocese, where parishioners gather and ask God “to send our laborers for his harvest,” and foster priestly vocations in the diocese,” said Father Michael Romano, director of vocations for the Diocese of Camden.
Upcoming dates and locations for the Holy Hours, all starting at 7 p.m., are:
– Dec. 5, 2013 – Deanery 3, St. Simon Stock, Berlin
– Jan. 2, 2014 – Deanery 4, Our Lady of Hope, Blackwood
– Feb. 6, 2014 – Deanery 5, Incarnation, Mantua
– Mar. 6, 2014 – Deanery 6, St. Mary of Mt. Carmel, St. Anthony of Padua Church, Hammonton
– Apr. 3, 2014 – Deanery 7, Parish of the Holy Cross, Bridgeton
– May 1, 2014 – Deanery 8, St. Joseph, Sea Isle City
– June 5, 2014 – Deanery 9, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Church of the Assumption, Galloway