As we enter this beautifully refreshing season of autumn, I want to ask you to offer special prayers for several men who are beginning studies at various seminaries in anticipation of ordination to the priesthood. I thought this would be a good time, as well, to update you on our overall efforts to nurture and encourage men who feel a call to the priesthood and ways we are getting the word out about the rewarding life that is a priest’s.
Michael Costik, Zachary Enes, Matt Jones, Peter Mottola and David Tedesche are studying at seminaries throughout the U.S., in Belgium and in Rome. I am just delighted, knowing what I do about these men, that they have successfully completed a year of formal discernment at Becket Hall and now will spend the next several years in priestly formation.
Meanwhile, I am sure you know that Edison Tayag was ordained a priest this past June — not long after Brian Carpenter was ordained a transitional deacon with anticipation of ordination next year. In addition, two more men will begin discernment at Becket Hall this year.
While we still have much work to do, this is all so encouraging. I believe we are beginning to see the fruits of all the hard work our vocations team, led by Father Tim Horan with passionate involvement from several of our priests, has done. We are trying many different ways to reach out, which I share with you here in hopes that you will pray for each and all of these important efforts.
I asked Carol Dady, our vocations-awareness coordinator, to describe in some detail below a few of these initiatives:
“We’re trying to help young people to know more priests and know them better,” Carol says.
“It’s hard to picture yourself doing, or being, something that you don’t have an adequate understanding of. These days, with declining numbers, it has become more difficult for priests to be present to the people in a personal way. We create opportunities for that to happen for young men of different age groups. Social, prayerful gatherings give them a chance to see priests as real, joyful people not unlike themselves. The gatherings provide a comfortable atmosphere for ”questions unlimited” regarding priesthood, discernment or anything they wish to ask. We host a number of these events during the year — with different guest priests in attendance.
“For example, 24 Hours with the Lord is a wonderful mini-retreat for men aged 17 to 40, and is offered each year on the evening before the priestly ordination. This year, 13 young men joined Bishop Clark and members of the Vocation Awareness Team for a great evening of conversation, prayer and a meal. Edison (Tayag) and Brian (Carpenter), and some of the Becket Hall men, joined us following ordination rehearsal at the cathedral and we sat under a tree behind St. Margaret Mary’s convent chatting well into the evening. Night prayer and eucharistic adoration, hosted by the Irondequoit Parishes Vocation Committee, concluded the evening. In the morning, we traveled together to attend Edison’s beautiful ordination celebration.
“In April, we took a group of eight discerners to NYC to see Pope Benedict XVI. We met up with seminarians, discerners and vocation directors from the eight dioceses of New York state and were part of the seminarian and youth rally at Dunwoodie. Our group really enjoyed getting to know other young men seriously discerning a vocation to priesthood.
“We have begun hosting ”Fisher Dinners” throughout the diocese. To date, we have had four such dinners in Geneva, Hilton and Irondequoit. It’s simple: a couple of priests, a few good men, a delicious meal, prayer and conversation.
“We’re trying to keep the language and topic of vocations ‘handy,’ so it can be easily incorporated into other areas of our faith where it naturally fits, such as stewardship, faith formation, youth and young adult ministry, preaching, and even our Spirit Alive! renewal. Discerning our God-given gifts, and how we use them in service to each other and for the glory of God, is essential to our identity as Christians. To that end, we provide all parishes with vocation bulletin announcements that correspond with the Sunday readings throughout the liturgical year.”
I thank Carol, Father Tim and all those who work so hard at this. These are all marvelous and creative ways of reaching out. Together, these work to build and cultivate a “vocation culture” in our diocese.
Other efforts include uploading our inspiring and informative vocations video to a Web site incredibly popular with young people, www.youtube.com, as well as our own diocesan site. In addition, we have a special Web site devoted exclusively to vocations: www.dor.org/vocations.
As well, perhaps you have seen the colorful posters we have distributed for use in our faith communities throughout the diocese. These feature local priests talking about the joys of being one.
If you are one of those men who may be feeling a tug in your heart and want to know more about the priesthood or ways to discern, please do call Carol Dady at 585-328-3210 or visit www.dor.org/vocations.
And for the rest of us, you may be asking, what can we do to help?
Well, certainly your constant prayer would be crucial to this effort. Be encouraging when young men think aloud about the priesthood in your presence. If you truly believe a young man you know might be a good candidate, don’t be afraid to suggest it. Many, many priests had someone they knew and trusted simply say, “Have you ever thought about being a priest?”
Peace to all.