Pastor's Desk Notes

April 21, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Fourth Sunday of Easter, with its Gospel reading focused on Jesus as Good Shepherd, is marked in a special way as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In particular, we are asked to pray for those whom God is calling to serve as priests and religious. We pray not only for greater numbers, but that those who have been called to this noble vocation would be given the grace to be true imitators of Christ. Jesus uses the image of a good shepherd, one who truly guards the flock and keeps vigil, not simply out of employment obligation but out of true concern. This is how the Incarnate Son of God approaches His flock. Just so, we pray today that those whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and to religious life, would have the grace to imitate the Good Shepherd.

To be a faithful, courageous shepherd is no easy task, especially in the society in which we live. While the dangers faced by one keeping watch over the sheep are particular – lions, wolves, hazards of geography or climate – the dangers we face today are very different. One of the greatest dangers is the what if. Perhaps the phrase is inelegant, but “whatifism” runs rampant in the minds of clergy, myself included. What if I say the wrong thing? What if, by speaking about what the Church teaches, I run afoul of popular opinion? What if I let fear get the better of me, avoid the sensitive topic, but end up leading people further from God as a result? “A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,” Jesus says in the Gospel. This is a true temptation for every priest, no matter what form the wolf might take. On the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the Church invites us to pray that those the Lord is calling to minister as shepherds might have the courage and strength of the Good Shepherd, that they might be free of these fears, and if not free, then courageous in facing them with the strength that comes from God.

To pilgrims at World Youth Day in Lisbon last year, Pope Francis said, “Rise up!” Let us awaken from sleep, let us leave indifference behind, let us open the doors of the prison in which we so often enclose ourselves, so that each of us can discover his or her proper vocation in the Church and in the world, and become a pilgrim of hope and a builder of peace! Let us be passionate about life, and commit ourselves to caring lovingly for those around us, in every place where we live.” He echoes these words in his message for this World Day of Prayer for Vocations. There are so many zealous souls being called by God to the priesthood. May they maintain that fervor, have it tempered by charity, and so become courageous, generous, good shepherds who reveal the heart of Jesus to all they serve.

A prayer for vocations in the Diocese of Bridgeport

Almighty and eternal God,
in your unfailing love you provide ministers for your Church.
We pray for those whom you call to serve the Church of Bridgeport as priests.
Inspire in them a generous response.
Grant them courage and vision to serve your people.
May their lives and service call your people to respond to the presence of your Spirit among us
that, faithful to the Gospel and hope of Jesus the Christ, we may:
announce glad tidings to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives,
set prisoners free,
and renew the face of the earth.



Fr. Sam