Vocations picture brighter, but more still needed - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Vocations picture brighter, but more still needed

Matt Jones and Brian Carpenter are doing well at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago. Both are on the track to priesthood. Matt’s road is the longer one. He is doing a pre-theology year with a focus on Latin. Next year he begins his theological studies. Brian’s road is considerably shorter. He will be ordained at Sacred Heart Cathedral at 10:30 a.m. on June 6.

I went to Mundelein with Father Jim Schwartz, who, in addition to being pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Penfield, generously guides and assists our seminarians through their years of study and spiritual formation. Jim’s normal practice is to visit on an annual or sometimes semiannual basis each seminary to which we send students.

The core of those visits is conversation with our seminarians and with members of the seminary staff who work with them. But the visits also allow us to know more about the environment, tone and style of those communities to which we send our students.

It is not my normal practice to travel with Jim on such trips, but I have had the practice of making occasional visits to the seminaries where our men study. I was much impressed by what I observed during my brief stay at Mundelein. I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to join conversations with faculty who serve as mentors and guides for Brian and Matt. And, I was impressed by the warmth and maturity of their fellow students whom I met. They are an impressive group of men.

Mundelein is one of four seminaries to which we send our students. The others are the North American College, Rome; The American College at Leuven, Belgium; and Theological College, Washington, D.C. During my prayer times at Mundelein, I prayed not only for Matt and Brian and those who work with them but also for their contemporaries in the other three institutions.

As I indicated to you not long ago, our vocation picture is brighter in the early stages than it has been in recent years. Our numbers are still small, but they are growing. No less important, those who are joining us are solid, gifted men. We have strong evidence that this good trend will continue.

I also have mentioned to you recently the darker side of the picture. That is, that barring the totally unforeseen, Brian is the last priest we’ll ordain for our diocese until 2013. It is clear that between now and then, we’ll have to make some significant adjustments.

In view of that, I pray daily:

* that all of us will pray for vocations to the diocesan priesthood

* that we will invite and encourage boys and young men who have a spirit of service and talents that we would like to find in our priests to consider priesthood as a possibility for themselves

* that such generous and gifted individuals would be open to the possibilities of a priestly vocation and would be willing to explore that possibility with the assistance of our Vocations Office.

The need is great. I know that your prayer and encouragement is essential to our ability to meet that need.

Peace to all.

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