The last thing any Vocation Director (but most definitely this Vocation Director) looks for in a candidate for seminary and ultimately the priesthood is someone who fits the description of the religious leaders Jesus describes in today’s Gospel. Someone whom we have to say, “listen to Father as he is your pastor/spiritual father but don’t do what he does”, who has chosen the choice portion in life for himself and forget others. We are not looking for priests who are about placing hardships on others and seeking the easy life for themselves. Unfortunately, that happens and hopefully because we’ve made the mistake of taking men with that predisposition in the past who have done damage to the Body of Christ that way, we are on the lookout for such men and hopefully for my own part in all of this – not admitting such men to the seminary.
Instead, we are looking for men who love God and who have servant’s and shepherd’s hearts. We are looking for men who will take care of themselves as it’s important that they last and endure but who put the needs of the people, and even one person before their own needs (as Jesus would do). We are looking for men who will become the kind of priest that many in the congregation will look to and want to be like; saints in the making. Men who help carry the burden of their people as they walk side by side their people carrying their burden. Men who are kind, merciful, not judgmental, caring and forgiving, men who may be sinners but who visit the confessional regularly themselves. Men who lead by example and who are examples of how to go about being a good Christian rather than how not to.
Do you know any of these men? I do. For I can honestly say that St. Augustine’s Seminary has many of these men in formation for the Archdiocese of Toronto. One of the great blessings this Vocation Director shares is knowing that the men who are in formation for this archdiocese are the kinds of men who will make good priests. In fact, so good that it places necessary pressure on me and my team to constantly find ways to help men discern. It also gives me reassurance and comfort to ask our seminarians to be key players in vocation work. I believe and have seen the importance of having them as part of the vocation team, encouraging other men to join their ranks. And then I am amazed at the caliber of men the Lord calls forth from there. More amazing men present themselves continually.
That – is thanks to the good people in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Since there might be someone reading this from somewhere else, I hope it is the case where you’re from too. I know that the holy people of this archdiocese pray for vocations and in doing so, their prayers are answered. Men step forward, not in droves but I’m glad in many ways that it’s not that way. Chosen men step forward.
On this day I give thanks for what we have, ask we pray for more of the same; servants and shepherd’s after the Sacred Heart of the Master and also ask for prayers for myself and the people I work with that we may be strong and discerning to find the kinds of priests our people deserve and for the seminary faculty that they may form these men to be Shepherds after His Own Heart.