The Church celebrates National Vocation Awareness Week November 5-11. This annual celebration is dedicated to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life through prayer and education.
This year’s celebration gives me an opportunity to reflect on my visits last week to St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore and Theological College in Washington, where some of our seminarians are studying for the priesthood.
My visit to St. Mary’s was occasioned by one of the three regular meetings during the school year of the Board of Trustees. A number of other bishops who send students to the seminary are also on the board, as are dedicated and committed Catholic women and men whose dedication and interest in priestly formation is evident.
More than the board meeting, however, I enjoy being with the young men of our diocese who are thinking about the priesthood and discerning God’s plan for them. Their sincerity, enthusiasm, and fraternal concern for each other is a wonderful sign of God’s goodness. Visiting with them brings me back several decades to my own seminary formation: friendships formed, lessons learned, and an eagerness to be about the Lord’s work. While seminary formation has changed dramatically since my days in the seminary, some things remain the same and I take great happiness in witnessing it.
Our seminarians bring the joy of the Gospel to life today. I wonder sometimes what changes and challenges will face them in the years ahead. Certainly none of us can predict the future, but we know that the Lord will always be with His Church as He promised. I take great pride in knowing our students and realizing that they will be responsible for keeping the faith alive in our diocese long after God calls me home.