By Katherine Long | Editor
More than 50 teens gathered under a large tent on the grounds of Christ the King Retreat House in Syracuse Aug. 5 for the annual bishop’s vocation picnic, The Tenth Hour. Hosted by the Office of Vocation Promotion, The Tenth Hour is an evening of dinner, conversation, prayer, and discernment with priests, seminarians, religious sisters, and the bishop.
The event aims to be “informal but engaging,” said Father Jason Hage, director of the Office of Vocation Promotion, and to provide young people — especially in the time of the coronavirus pandemic — “time to reflect on their lives and what God wants them to do.”
“The hope here is there’s a little opening in the heart of a teen,” Father Hage said.
Attendees heard talks from Sister Beth Ann Dillon, DSMP, Campus Minister and religion teacher at Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School in Syracuse, who shared her vocation story, and Father Hage, who urged the young people to say “yes” to God’s call in their lives. If you want to know who you truly are, he told them, “look into the eyes of Jesus and you’ll find a mirror into your soul.”
Bishop Douglas J. Lucia also shared some of his vocation story as he led a Holy Hour that included Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Solemn Benediction to close the evening.
“‘The harvest is rich but the laborers are few,’” he began, referencing the evening’s Gospel reading. Noting that the diocese currently has 57 priests available for assignment at 119 parishes, the bishop said he asks the Lord what to do, “but I do it with peace in my heart because the church is the Body of Christ.” And as a body has many different parts, “it’s not just the need for priests, the need for deacons, the need for consecrated men and women, it’s really the need for what I call the faithful — those men and women who are open to the Gospel and are willing to become a living Gospel for all people to hear, doing it in the way God calls us.”
Bishop Lucia told the teens about how he found himself “wrestling with God” during his time in seminary and how he had decided to leave. But as he served a guest in a soup kitchen one evening, he heard the words, “the Body of Christ. Amen.”
“That was it. ‘The Body of Christ. Amen.’ And at that moment, I knew — there went the house and the two-car garage and all that I was planning. But I felt so much peace…. The same peace I feel 35 years later,” he said.
“I look at my own vocation and I know it’s nothing I’ve done,” the bishop said. “The only thing I did was to listen — to listen and to say ‘yes.’ And God does the rest.”