The priesthood is a great gift. I want to begin Lent by noting that I often take these 40 days to reflect on the great gift given to me. I acknowledge my unworthiness for the gift, but I also marvel that God blessed me anyway.
The decision to enter the priesthood is not a one-time event. A guy doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide to be a priest and show up at the seminary with his stuff. It is a process of discernment and that process can either begin at a young age or when a man is a little older. On February 1, we had a group of about 30 high school age boys gather at Blessed Sacrament to meet with Cardinal Seán and discuss the priesthood, have a meal and pray together. It’s a traditional event called a St. Andrew’s Dinner. It was a wonderful night for the local Church as we gathered to talk about something so important to the life of the Church and so near and dear to the Cardinal’s heart. A lot of the young men were from Catholic schools with Xaverian Brothers High School well represented. There were public school kids (which I was also, by the way) there too. The three vocation directors for the archdiocese were present as well and I think for young men to see 4 priests and the Cardinal together in one place must have been an interesting experience as we don’t see that number of priests gathered at one parish very often anymore.
There were seminarians present as well and they gave such inspiring talks about how they went from what they were doing—one fellow was in the Navy—to entering Saint John’s Seminary. Those witness talks are always inspiring. For me this was an inspiring evening of fellowship. It was an evening of good intentions and prayer and I was very happy Blessed Sacrament could host such a wonderful night. The future of the priesthood could very well have been in that room that night and it is very clear that these events are part of our mission. In fact, the pastoral plan being developed for the collaborative sets a goal of establishing a group of young men who can gather to pray, to discern their vocation, and to develop friendships.
I always want to let you know what is positive and life-giving in our collaborative and this event was all that and much more. We are truly blessed. I hope your Lent has begun with much hope for the Easter season for in less than 40 days the Tomb will be empty.