Today we celebrate the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations to both the priesthood and consecrated life. For this post, I am choosing to focus just on Vocations to the Catholic Priesthood, because the Parochial Vicar at the parish I work for here in Arizona is a true inspiration of humility and the Catholic Priesthood needs to be written about more often by the lay faithful. He is a good priest who prays the Mass with reverence, loves to celebrate the Sacraments, particularly Reconciliation, is a great homilist, and has saintly zeal that resembles St. John Vianney, St. Francis de Sales, and Blessed John Paul II.
On October 6, 2012, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI provided the world with the message regarding this day of prayer. The theme for this world day of prayer is Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith. For the Church to remain strong in the years ahead, we need vocations to increase to the priesthood. We must strive to form young men properly in the Catholic faith and ask them if they are willing to sacrifice their lives for Jesus Christ.
The Catholic Priesthood (<– The Day in the Life of a Priest video) was fulfilled by Christ Jesus himself and then given to the Apostles (the first Bishops) with Saint Peter as the head. Jesus Christ is the Royal High Priest. He completed the Levitical Priesthood that we read about in the Old Testament. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1544 states, “Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the “one mediator between God and men.” The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique “high priest after the order of Melchizedek…” For more information on the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, read paragraphs 1536-1600.
Many of the current men in seminary are coming from strong Catholic families that often pray together, from strong parishes that encourage men to discern their potential call to the priesthood, and from Catholic schools that also place an importance on vocations. Many dioceses in the United States are placing school chaplains back into the catholic high schools. The Bishops that oversee these particular churches know the importance of having a full-time priest on campus and the influence they have in such a place of catholic education. Blessed John Paul II (ordained a priest on All Saints Day) said in, Pastores Dabo Vobis (I Will Give You Shepherds), “…priests in particular, should not be afraid to set forth explicitly and forcefully the priestly vocation as a real possibility for those young people who demonstrate the necessary gifts and talents.”
Furthermore, the Vatican II document, Optatum Totius (Decree on the Training of Priests) states, “The duty of fostering vocations falls on the whole Christian community…the greatest contribution is made by families…as it were, a first seminary, and by parishes in whose abundant life the young people themselves take an active part. Teachers…involved in the education of boys and young men – should endeavor to train the young entrusted to them to recognize a divine vocation and to follow it willingly”(#2).
Within the seminaries across this country and the world, a new breed of holy priests (see the video in this link – it’s the best!!) are on the rise. They come from many paths of life. They are being formed, educated, and prepared to lead the Catholic Church well into the 21st century by means of the New Evangelization. Proposition 49 from the Synod on the New Evangelization states, “Seminaries should take as their focus the New Evangelization so that it becomes the recurring and unifying theme in programs of human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation in the ars celebrandi, in homiletics and in the celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation, all very important parts of the New Evangelization.”
I know many dioceses throughout the country that are stepping up their efforts to promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. The Diocese of Phoenix, the Diocese of Evansville, the Diocese of Austin, the Diocese of Joliet, the Diocese of Sacramento, the Diocese of Providence, the Archdiocese of Denver, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and many more are reaching out to their young men like never before.
The Catholic Church in Africa and in Asia, where the Church is rapidly growing, is putting forth great efforts as well. The Catholic Church in Uganda has been rapidly growing for many years. They continue to produce great men ready leave their families and homeland to travel across the globe to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those in need of it. Here in Phoenix, we have the Apostles of Jesus serving the faithful at St. James Greater Roman Catholic Parish.
As we celebrate Vocations Sunday 2013, let us offer up our prayers that God will send us worthy men ready to serve the Catholic Church through the Priesthood, which Christ Jesus himself established with the Apostles. For prayers on Vocations, visit the USSCB website.
St. John Vianney (Patron of Parish Priests)…Pray For Us!