Our Bishop in Belleville doesn’t miss an opportunity to mention the need for vocations to the priesthood in the Diocese of Belleville. And, it’s true. We have maybe 4 men studying in the seminary at this time. There will be no ordinations in Belleville for several years. That’s not enough to replace the retiring priests, or to staff parishes that are going without a priest-pastor. I’m sure by the time I retire I’ll be overseeing two or three parishes instead of just one as I am at the moment. We may wish the Church would change its discipline concerning celibacy and ordaining women to priesthood, but that’s not going to happen. To be Church, we need the Eucharist. And to celebrate Eucharist, you need a priest. There is this ritual called Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest where the scriptures are read and communion from the tabernacle is distributed by a lay leader of prayer. But it’s a poor substitute for what is the essential Sacramental celebration that renews us in our identity as the Body of Christ, as I teach in the talk that I give as part of the training session for lay leaders of prayer in our diocese.
One of the concerns I hear so often from parents when asked why they don’t encourage vocations nowadays is that they don’t want to miss out on the chance of grandchildren and fear that their son will be lonely not having a spouse. There’s a great quote by the parents of three brothers from the Milwaukee Diocese who are and will be priests in another diocese that I stumbled upon in my internet browsing. Concerning not having grandchildren Jerry and Ruth Stand said, “they have found peace with their sons’ decisions and let go of their dreams for a herd of grandchildren,….. ‘We let go of that, it’s not about us,’ Jerry Strand said. ‘It really has nothing to do with our joy because we will or won’t. That’s part of the sacrifice.’
What a great attitude and perspective. Everyone in the church is called to sacrifice in one way or another for the good of family, church and society, in order to ensure the Good News is proclaimed and Eucharist is available.
Read the entire article and watch a video about three brothers seeking ordination at Luke, Vincent, Jake Strand; 3 Brothers From Wisconsin Family To Become Priests .
Those of you who read my blog and have sons, I pose this question; “Have you encouraged your son to be a priest? What is keeping you from doing so if you haven’t?” Talk to me, I’ll assure you it’s a good life and worth the sacrifices both parents and son make. Ask my dad (mom would have told you before she died how happy she was to have a son who became a priest). There are rewards, too, not just sacrifice.