In January of 2020, I spent a day with about 45 priests from the Archdiocese of Newark to encourage them to promote vocations in their parishes. We asked them to send 2-5 parishioners to a parishioner workshop that was held just 6 weeks later. They responded so beautifully by sending 125 parishioners to that workshop to be equipped!
Shortly thereafter, our world’s focus shifted elsewhere understandably. We are living in an interesting and challenging time in our world with uncertainty at every turn.
A year later, I shared with some of these same priests Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel #109 which says, “Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness, and our hope-filled commitment. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary vigor!”
My main message is that we MUST face these challenges with JOY and HOPE!
A silver lining can be found with many parishioners seeing and appreciating the priesthood now than we were in years past. Most parishioners who came to Mass before this pandemic hit did not think twice about their priest, except that he was there. They were thankful that he presided at the Mass but probably did not say so.
I shared with them that even though life has turned upside down, let us not forget the faithful who are making sacrifices to come to Mass, even when they do not have to. Yes, I know many cannot come, but for a moment let us marvel at the families that have not missed Mass since they opened back up. I think new vocations will be coming from these families.
They are seeing clearly now the desperate need the world has for the Sacraments, and therefore, for priests and consecrated men and women. I know that God is still calling men and women, and actually more so in this time of chaos, to courageously answer the call.
I am grateful to these priests for seeing vocations as vital to spend an afternoon finding out ways to promote vocations for the upcoming World Day for Consecrated Life (celebrated in parishes February. 6-7), World Marriage Day (February 14), and World Day of Prayer for Vocations (April 25).
Let us pray for our priests as they seek holiness and to save souls.
St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us!