Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This weekend marks the 60th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Each year, the Gospel for this Sunday reflects on Jesus, who is the Good Shepherd, the perfect high priest who models for his ordained priests what their ministry, pastoral care, and holiness of life must be. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, also models the way of living for every vocation; married couples, parents, deacons, religious, all are called to shepherd and guide according to the example of the Good Shepherd. But in a very particular way, the Church calls on us to pray for an outpouring of vocations to the priesthood on this day.
To be a priest is the greatest mystery and privilege of my life. It is a mystery because even after all the time that has passed since my ordination, I still do not fully grasp the reason God saw fit to call me to be a priest. The priesthood is not given because a man deserves it, but rather because God, in his mercy, desires to use even broken human beings to carry out his work on earth. To be a priest is a privilege. Since May 17, 2008, I have been given the immense privilege of walking with people in their moments of greatest need, suffering, and joy. Not a day of these fifteen years has been dull, not a day without its blessings. For all the challenges in parish life, in ministry, and interiorly, the gift of the priesthood of Jesus Christ has mysteriously and wonderfully carried me through. On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I pray especially in thanksgiving for the gift of my vocation.
Last weekend, I announced that our parish will soon receive a new priest in service of the Gospel. Fr. Brendan Blawie will join us this summer as parochial vicar. Please pray for him as he prepares to begin his ministry in our community. For thirty-two months, there has been only one priest assigned in a full-time capacity at St. Pius X, and I confess that those months have not been easy. Throughout that time, though, I have been convicted again and again of the fruitfulness of the harvest. Jesus speaks to His apostles, telling them that the harvest is ripe and that they must pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers. I see the faith of our parish community, and I am confident that it is bearing fruit every day. Furthermore, I am confident that part of the fruit our parish will bear is priestly vocations. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord has placed on the hearts of young men in this parish family the call to serve Him as priests. If you are one of these young men, I urge you to say yes to His voice. Jesus never promises an easy path when we take up His call to follow and serve, but He does promise that we will be His hands and feet, that we will speak His word, that we will make Him present for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Say yes!
In 2004, Pope St. John Paul II, nearing the end of his life, offered this prayer for vocations, and I ask you to join in praying it today:
Jesus, Son of God,
in whom the fullness of the Divinity dwells,
You call all the baptized to ” put out into the deep”,
taking the path that leads to holiness.
Waken in the hearts of young people the desire
to be witnesses in the world of today
to the power of your love.
Fill them with your Spirit of fortitude and prudence,
so that they may be able to discover the full truth
about themselves and their own vocation.
sent by the Father to reveal His merciful love,
give to your Church the gift
of young people who are ready to put out into the deep,
to be the sign among their brothers
of Your presence which renews and saves.
Holy Virgin, Mother of the Redeemer,
sure guide on the way towards God and towards neighbor,
You who pondered his word in the depth of your heart,
sustain with your motherly intercession
our families and our ecclesial communities,
so that they may help adolescents and young people
to answer generously the call of the Lord.