I recently had the opportunity to visit our 14 seminarians who are in formation for priesthood at the college seminary of St. Gregory the Great in Seward, Nebraska (my home state), and at the graduate (or “Theology”) seminary of Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Our 15th seminarian is Matt Kane who is currently teaching at St. Paul’s Catholic School in Colorado Springs. Matt is preparing for his ordination to the diaconate this Dec. 22 at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Looking ahead a bit, we are excited at the possibility of ordaining Thomas Pressley as a transitional deacon (transitioning towards the priesthood) this coming June 4. God willing, the following June 11 we will ordain Deacons William Dwyer and Matthew Kane to the priesthood. This is a great gift for our diocese!
When I came to the diocese, I was encouraged to hear that we have a good number of seminarians. After I had the opportunity to meet each of or seminarians, I was even more encouraged at the quality and faithfulness of these young men. During my short visit at each seminary, I continued to feel heartened at the positive spirit I experienced amongst our seminarians.
Pope Saint John Paul II said, “Do not forget that when the Lord calls, he also provides the necessary strength and grace to answer his call.” We know that each one of us has a particular calling or vocation which is offered to us by God. We believe that these vocations are meant to help us along the way to heaven. When we willingly say “yes” to God’s call — we find that we as brothers and sisters help each other along this way.
During my 27 years of priesthood, I have noticed a few practices that can help families (and individuals) to better discern their own vocation and to promote vocations in each family member. I simply offer these to you and encourage you and your family to take a new step with God. Allow God’s call to be known. Support each other’s vocations. If we do these things, we will also be supporting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life.
1. Identify the gifts of family members and friends. Through baptism each of us has received special gifts and talents. Reflect as a family or with your friends on the gifts and talents of each person and how they can be used in service to God. There is a place for each of your unique gifts in the church.
2. Pray. Of all the ways we can work toward the increase of vocations, prayer is undoubtedly the most essential. Make a commitment to pray for this intention everyday as a family, perhaps at mealtime. Also consider praying for a particular priest or religious in your life.
3. Participate in parish activities. A healthy parish community includes the participation of all its members. The involvement of your family in the activities offered in your parish will help create the life-giving environment necessary for the nurturing of religious and priestly vocations.
4. Perform acts of charity. In the Gospels, Jesus directs us to love our neighbor and he calls us to serve one another. There are varied ways that we can behave charitably and serve the Lord gladly. Look into ways that your family can generously meet the needs of your neighbors. A charitable heart is a hallmark of priestly and religious vocations.
5. Remember that your home is the “domestic church.” Parents are the first preachers of the faith to their children and the home is where early formation occurs. Create a climate within your home that will foster and encourage all members of your family to live out the vocation that God has planned for them. Pray, read spiritual books, talk about your faith and vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Let your home truly be a dwelling place for the Lord!
May God bless our efforts.