My dear friends,
This weekend we welcome Father Matthew Gomez, the Archdiocesan Director of Vocations who will be preaching at some Masses about vocations to the priesthood. This is a mission that is very near and dear to my heart because I served as Vocations Director from 2006-2009. As Catholics, we should always be praying for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Your prayers are what prompt young men to say yes to God, to endure through the trials of seminary formation, and to ultimately be the good and holy priests that you deserve.
Those of you who attend Mass on Sunday mornings have no doubt seen two seminarians serving at Mass the last two weeks. Roger Goodwill and Gabriel Campos have been sent by Father Matthew to assist us on Sunday mornings during the summer, and we are grateful for their presence and for their willingness to accept God’s invitation to pursue a vocation to the priesthood. I ask you to please keep these two young men in your prayers as they continue their formation.
In speaking about priestly vocations, St. John Paul II once said:
I am often asked, especially by young people, why I became a priest. Maybe some of you would like to ask the same question. Let me try briefly to reply. I must begin by saying that it is impossible to explain entirely. For it remains a mystery, even to myself. How does one explain the ways of God? Yet, I know that, at a certain point in my life, I became convinced that Christ was saying to me what he had said to thousands before me: ‘Come, follow me!’ There was a clear sense that what I heard in my heart was no human voice, nor was it just an idea of my own. Christ was calling me to serve him as a priest.
And you can probably tell that I am deeply grateful to God for my vocation to the priesthood. Nothing means more to me or gives me greater joy that to celebrate Mass each day and to serve God’s people in the Church. That has been true ever since the day of my ordination as a priest. Nothing has ever changed this, not even becoming Pope. (September 14, 1987, Los Angeles)
As a parish, we must rededicate ourselves to pray for vocations. It has been a very long time since the Church of the Little Flower produced a priestly vocation. There are many who claim that they were parishioners here, but a parish that produces a priest knows the man, sees him rise through seminary, attends his ordination, and then rejoices when they see one of their own celebrate his first Mass at our altar. This is a noble endeavor that we must undertake. Little Flower should be a seedbed of vocations for both the priesthood and religious life. The presence of our Carmelite Sisters has prompted young women to inquire about religious life and has even produced vocations, but even the Carmelite Sisters, who love their priests so much, pray every day for more priests.
Prayer is good, but we also need to talk to our children about vocations. We need to ask the very simple question: “Have you ever considered a vocation to the priesthood or religious life?” Some young people don’t consider this until they are asked. And if by chance you see someone in our pews who, as we say in Spanish “tiene pinta de cura o de monja” (looks like a priest or a nun), don’t be afraid to ask them if they’ve considered a vocation. Many great vocation stories start that way, and who knows, you just might be the instrument God is using to nudge a young person to follow the Lord and say YES to Him.
Jesus, our Good Shepherd, send us good and holy priests.