Recently five young men gathered for a three-day retreat at Mount Savior Monastery in Pine City. They did so because they are giving serious consideration to studying for priesthood in the Diocese of Rochester.
Their retreat began a year that they will spend at Becket Hall, our diocesan house of discernment, located in the former rectory of Most Precious Blood Parish, just off Lexington Avenue in Rochester.
During their months at Becket Hall, the residents — with the help of mentors — will be focusing on four areas of formation identified by the Holy See as critical to the integral, fruitful development of a vocation to the priesthood. Those areas of formation are spiritual, human, academic and pastoral. A brief word about the content of each:
Spiritual formation: The student’s relationship to the Lord; the centrality of the Eucharist in Catholic life; the sacrament of reconciliation as an experience of God’s compassionate mercy; instruction in praying the Liturgy of the Hours; praying the Scriptures and forms of personal and devotional prayer; introduction to or deepening of the experience of spiritual direction; simplicity of life; chastity and healthy celibate living.
Human formation: Concerns itself with self-knowledge, awareness of others, healthy relationships, emotional maturity, a mature understanding of authority and obedience, fortitude in time and stress management, and participation in the life of the community (meal preparation, ordinary household chores).
Academic formation: Meant to foster an awareness of the importance of understanding our Catholic tradition and a commitment to the studies which deepen that understanding.
Pastoral formation: To help a resident better understand ministry, some form of fieldwork is required in a parish or other faith community — as a means to expressing his faith and love, as a way to recognize God’s action in the lives of people he meets, as a demonstration of his personal and professional capabilities.
You can see that our five friends will have much to occupy their spirits as the year unfolds. They will be active for sure, but they also will have ample space and silence in which to go deep inside to be in touch with God’s leading in their lives. And, they will enjoy the assistance of experienced mentors to support them through the experience.
I am pleased to tell you that already we have a few other men who are seriously considering entering Becket Hall next year. Please support those who are entering Becket Hall this year and those who are actively considering that possibility.
So many of you — thanks be to God! — have expressed concern about vocations. I hope that you find encouraging the information I have shared about Becket Hall. Your interest and prayers mean a great deal to our diocesan vocations efforts.
Let me ask a favor of you. Read carefully and think about the following 10 qualities we look for in candidates for priesthood in the Diocese of Rochester.
1.) One who has the beginnings of a personal relationship with God and considers it an important and vital part of life. He shows evidence of working toward deepening his relationship with God, recognizing that prayer is always a work in progress.
2.) One who has the willingness to talk about his faith and experience of God. One whose life gives witness to his faith. One who is actively involved in the life of his parish.
3.) One who has a desire to serve others and make a difference in people’s lives and demonstrates genuine care and concern through his actions.
4.) One who shows a proper use of this world’s goods and a care for the poor.
5.) One who enjoys life and people, and has a sense of humor. He is aware of his own humanity, with all of its strengths and weaknesses, and has a sense of humility.
6.) One who has a collaborative vision of ministry. He recognizes he doesn’t have all the answers and seeks to work with others in solving problems and reaching goals.
7.) One who loves the church and is excited about being a Roman Catholic.
8.) One who forms and maintains healthy relationships with both men and women. He recognizes the need to both give and accept support from others. He is willing, without having the final answer, to consider the challenge of a celibate lifestyle for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
9.) One who has good physical, mental and emotional health and is able to balance the various aspects of his life.
10.) One who shows a basic optimism about life because of his faith in the goodness of God.
I’ll bet that you know some men who possess these qualities. Would you pray for them that they might consider priesthood? Would you drop a note or raise the question with them in person?
You might say something like this: “I’d like to tell you that I see qualities in you that I love to find in our priests. Have you ever thought about that possibility for yourself?”
Thanks for reading this. Thanks for thinking about the questions.
Peace to all.