I can remember that it was my junior year of high school. I was standing with some of my friends in the cafeteria of Wildwood Catholic High School during a school dance. I was checking out the girls there in the rather dark setting, trying to get up the courage (because I was so shy) to ask one of them to dance.
Then along comes this priest. He was new to the school, not ordained for too long, and was assigned to teach my theology class.
“Did you ever think about becoming a priest?”
He asked me that question. It still resonates in my mind. What should I say?
Maybe I was unusual, but my prayer life at that time included a prayer for a good wife. I prayed that God would give me the wife that was best suited for me and that we would be happy together. It’s funny how I can remember quite clearly how I regularly prayed that particular request.
“Yes, Father, I’ve thought about it but I’m not sure that it’s right for me.” It seemed to be a good enough response to get him to go away and let me resume what I was doing—at least for the time being.
After nearly 34 years of ministry as a diocesan priest, I realize clearly that Christ answered my prayer and gave me the best bride that He possibly could—His own spouse, the Church. I can honestly say that I am truly grateful that God called me to be His priest and for the gift of the ordained, ministerial Priesthood.
On this 4th Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, Bishop Sullivan asked us to speak about and to encourage vocations to the diocesan priesthood. Parishioners are asked to pray specifically for vocations to the diocesan priesthood. Please take the time to do so every day.
The privilege to offer Mass daily, to bring healing and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, to anoint the sick, to baptize, to teach and preach the Catholic faith, to act in the person of Christ in the sacraments and so many other blessings have humbled me and reminded me of God’s great love and mercy for His people.
I don’t believe that God ever stopped calling young men to be His priests. God remains faithful from age to age. Pray that those who are called by God can hear and discern “the call” and have the courage to respond to it.
A Prayer for Vocations
Lord Jesus, we ask you to bless the Diocese of Camden
with an increase in vocations to the priesthood.
We pray that young men from our parishes and families will
hear your call and be both generous and courageous in their response.
May more young men serve you as priests who teach the faith, preach the Gospel,
celebrate the sacraments and make you present among us through their ministry.
Encourage them to embrace the joy-filled and fulfilling life of a diocesan priest.
May parents support priestly vocations in their families by prayer and good example.
We entrust these prayers through Mary Immaculate, our patroness,
hopeful that you will bless our diocese with more priest in the near future,
who live and reign forever and ever.