Our priests, our future
These are exciting times for vocations in our Archdiocese.Last month I had the blessing of attending the graduation of St. John Seminary. Last Saturday, June 1, I was honored to ordain two fine men to the priesthood.
We are looking ahead at the new school year and I am really encouraged. It looks like we may have 20 to 25 new seminarians this year.
Our future looks bright. Recently I hosted an “Andrew Dinner.” This is a dinner inspired by the Gospel story of St. Andrew bringing St. Peter to meet Jesus. In this case, pastors from around the Archdiocese bring young men from their parishes to have dinner with me and to talk about the exciting adventure of the priesthood. We had a great dinner and about 40 men came who were discerning their vocation to the priesthood.
These men have realized the beautiful truth — that the priesthood is a great adventure, a journey that a man walks in friendship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is calling men today to follow him. To be close to him. To be so close that they can be his living image. Jesus is calling men to be him in a special way. To be his face and his hands and his voice in the world.
On this journey of the priesthood, men are called to continue the work of Jesus. As we see in the Gospels, Jesus moved from town to town — teaching and preaching the Kingdom of God and healing every illness.
The priest’s mission is Christ’s mission. By ordination, the priest is granted the privilege of sharing in our Lord’s own priesthood, of ministering in persona Christi. Jesus told his apostles and he tells his priests, Whoever hears you hears him. Whoever sees you will know the Father.
Only his ordained priests have the awesome power to speak in Jesus’ name — to grant his forgiveness, to feed his people with his Body and Blood.
Jesus calls his priests to be the guardians of the flock of God. To be the protectors, the leaders, the spiritual guides for the family of God.
And he sends his priests into the world to grow the family of God — to evangelize and to share the good news of salvation and reconciliation with God.
This is a message that the world is looking for. The people of our world want to know God. The priest has the beautiful mission of bringing God to others. To show men and women that God is real, that God is alive.
People are hungry for love, for community, for communion. They are hungry for God. That is why Jesus left us the Eucharist. He left us himself. As the food of God, the bread of the angels, the bread of life.
Jesus promised to abide with us until the end of the age. He loves us so much that he wanted to be our food, our daily bread. The Eucharist is his daily presence among us, the beautiful reminder every day at every altar of his love and his sacrifice for us. And he left the Eucharist in the hands of his priests.
More than anything, the adventure of the priesthood is an adventure of friendship with Christ.
Jesus calls the priest to follow him in everything he does. By his words — by his preaching and teaching of the Word of God. By his works of healing and forgiveness. But most importantly, by his life — by his witness to purity, and faith, and love.
The priest must live close to Jesus. He must seek to be more like him every day — through his contact with Jesus in the Scriptures and in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and confession. The priest is called to stay true to Christ’s commandments and to the duties he is entrusted with.
The Gospel tells us that Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for people. And this month of June is the month that the Church dedicates to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Priests should always remember that. Priests have to love with the heart of Jesus! They must be men of compassion. Men in whom others see the heart of God! The priest should be the voice of God’s compassion in all that he does.
This week let’s keep praying for more vocations. We can never have enough holy priests! Let’s thank God for our new priests, and let’s pray for all our priests and seminarians, our future! And if you know a young man you think might have a calling, give him our website — www.lavocations.org.
Let us go to Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Angels, the patroness of this great Archdiocese. Let us ask her to watch over our new priests. And let us ask her intercession that we might love God more deeply and serve our brothers and sisters in love.
Follow Archbishop Gomez at: www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.
Prayer of the MonthPapal intentions for November: That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.
Papal intentions for December: That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.