"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

11-04-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt 4:19). Whenever I hear those words, it takes me back to the days when I realized God was calling me to the priesthood. I was only a boy – maybe 8 years old – the first time the idea came to me. When I told other people – I think they mostly thought it was a cute idea that would fade over time. To be honest, as time went on, other ideas came to my head. But the priesthood was the only one that kept coming back. By age 14, I was convinced that was what God wanted me to do. Looking back, I can say that God was very persistent.

This week is National Vocation Awareness Week. It's a time to make a special effort to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It's also a time to think about what we can do to encourage young people to think about whether God might be calling them – and to say yes if He is!

Our parish has a long history of people who have answered God's call. I just learned that Matt Marinelli and Joe Illes, two young men of our parish, are scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood on June 22 nd. They have been studying for several years, and are in the final stage of their preparation. It will be a great blessing for our parish to see two more of her sons answer God's call.

Additionally, I learned that two of the seminarians who have spent recent summers in our parish – Andrew Prickel and Tom Lanza – are scheduled to be ordained deacons on June 15 th . That will represent the beginning of the final step in their journey to the priesthood. Let's keep all these men in our prayers!

Some people ask me how they can know if God is indeed calling them to be a priest. The best answer I can give is that if they have even a remote feeling that God might want them to be a priest, they should do a couple of things. First, they should speak to a priest they trust – one with whom they feel comfortable. He can answer questions they have and help them sort out their thoughts. He can also help them pray more deeply about it, and help them discern whether or not God may indeed be calling them. I have been honored to do this for several young men over the years, some of whom are fine priests today.

In addition to speaking with a priest, I would encourage such a man to spend time in adoration – quietly sitting with our Lord. Many good priests first heard Christ's call as they sat silently before Him.

Finally, I would encourage everyone in our parish to do their part to help those whom God is calling to answer His call. Pray that God will call many young men from our parish to be priests – and pray that those He is calling will have the courage and generosity to say yes! Perhaps we can all say an extra Hail Mary for that each day. What a beautiful parish project that would be.

I would be remiss if, when speaking about vocations, I failed to mention our Serra Club. The Serra Club is a group of people who commit themselves to praying for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. They do this especially by attending a special Mass on the first and third Tuesday of every month in our Church at 6 PM. After Mass they have a dinner meeting with a talk on some spiritual matter, usually given by a priest. You can simply come to the Serra Mass some Tuesday, or get more information from me or the parish office.

In the meantime, please say a Hail Mary for me – and for an increase in vocations – each day. Have a great week!

Fr. John