Diocesan youth at rally discerning call to priesthood
by luke eggleston
SUN staff writer
During his special address to the young people and seminarians at the Youth Rally Saturday, April 19, in Yonkers during his visit to the U.S., Pope Benedict XVI concluded with a special address regarding vocations.
“Dear young people, finally I wish to share a word about vocations,” he said. “First of all my thoughts go to your parents, grandparents and godparents. They have been your primary educators in the faith. By presenting you for baptism, they made it possible for you to receive the greatest gift of your life. On that day you entered into the holiness of God himself. You became adoptive sons and daughters of the Father,” the pontiff said. “You were incorporated into Christ. You were made a dwelling place of his Spirit. Let us pray for mothers and fathers throughout the world, particularly those who may be struggling in any way — socially, materially, spiritually. Let us honor the vocation of matrimony and the dignity of family life. Let us always appreciate that it is in families that vocations are given life.”
For Father Joe O’Connor, who was recently appointed the diocesan director of the Office of Vocation Promotion, the linkage between vocation and family was particularly poignant.
Father O’Connor traveled to New York with 10 youth from the Syracuse Diocese who are considering the priesthood. The young men had an opportunity not only to attend the weekend’s events during the papal visit, but also to spend the weekend at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in the Rockville Center Diocese.
“It’s great to see them get this experience,” Father O’Connor said. “They’ve been mingling with the seminarians from Brooklyn and Long Island and they’ve been asking questions about their day-to-day lives.”
One of the prospective seminarians in attendance was Dane Connelly, a sophomore at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio and a parishioner at St. Patrick’s Church in Chittenango.
Connelly began considering the priesthood during his junior year of high school.
“I’m definitely open and discerning it now,” Connelly said. “I’m considering the priesthood in order to serve God and his church in the best way that you can, which is to give my life completely to that service.”
Connelly said that his stay at the seminary was enlightening and the seminary itself was particularly interesting to him.
“It’s been great. It’s very big and older, which is more to my liking because it’s more traditional,” he said.
Another youth considering the priesthood, Andrew Salvetti, added that having a first-hand glimpse of seminary life made it very attractive.
“It’s like a fraternity. You’re automatically accepted and everyone is so revved up,” he said.
Salvetti, a junior at West Genesee High School who attends St. Joseph’s in Camillus, said he is very close to choosing the seminary as his future.
“Giving my life to God has always been in the back of my mind,” he said.
Both Salvetti and Connelly were moved to be in the presence of the pope during the Youth Rally Saturday.
“It’s so inspiring to see everybody so excited about the Vicar of Christ,” Salvetti said, noting that it was particularly encouraging to hear the pontiff address vocations. “He’s an authority on vocation and he recognized us.”
Connelly said that Pope Benedict XVI has been an important figure to him since his election.
“I’m a very big follower of his pontificate,” said Connelly. “The rally today was great. To have the Holy Father come and talk always rejuvenates people’s faith.”