Priests' vocations honored - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Priests’ vocations honored

Sister Joan Sobala, SSJ, pastoral administrator of St. Francis, Phelps, and St. Felix, Clifton Springs, sent me a note expressing Father’s Day greetings. She enclosed with those kind words a copy of the parish bulletin, calling my attention to her column.

In the column Joan, inspired by Father’s Day, wrote about 13 priests of our diocese whose ministries and/or particular virtues have been a positive influence in her life.

Joan was kind enough to include me in those reflections, but that is not why I write about her column. Rather, I write to say how much I appreciate the way in which she thought about, and named for others, the qualities in these priests that have encouraged her and given her food for thought through the years.

What were those qualities? The willingness to keep learning in changing times. The ability to use music to attract people to God. Simplicity. The patience to wait for God even in our own anxiety. The ability to connect insight into Scripture with daily human experience. Dependence on God in good times and in bad. A special understanding of the anointing of the sick. The reminder that the conversation between faith and science is always important. Awareness that our church is a big church with room for people of all kinds. The ability to trust coworkers and the faith of the people. A consistent practice of inclusive invitation to people to participate in community life.

Some of these qualities require a certain level of technical skill, but all of them are of such a nature that they could be a part of all of our lives. For example, one needn’t be a trained scholar to help others connect the Scripture with daily life. One needn’t be ordained to understand and open for others the reality of the healing power of God in our lives. We can all invite. We can all come to a greater simplicity. We can always grow in our capacity to trust.

When I finished reading Joan’s column, I felt that I had read not only a very warm and affectionate tribute to the priests of our diocese, but also an effective piece promoting priestly vocations. And, I am very grateful for that.

You may recall that in last week’s column I spoke of some of the qualities I admire in the presbyterate of our diocese — generosity, faithful service, care for one another and for those in need, a willingness to stretch themselves in service of the Kingdom.

Joan wrote of 13 individuals; my reference was to the entire presbyterate. But, I think that — allowing for those different approaches — we touch upon some of the gifts and virtues that distinguish our wonderful presbyterate.

I ask you to continue your prayers for an increase of vocations to the priesthood in our local church. It is well established that a personal invitation to a potential candidate to think about the possibility of such a vocation for himself is very important. And, it has a special weight when the one inviting is himself a priest. A second significant factor is parental, familiar and peer encouragement of those who are thinking about that possibility for themselves.

And, finally, prayer for that intention is a critical element in the whole process. I mean prayer in the life of the candidate, prayer for him by the community and prayer for God’s guidance for all — especially the young who yearn to do God’s will for them and are trying to find their way to a rich, rewarding and challenging life.

My thanks to Sister Joan.

Peace to all.

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