Teaching 7th grade CCD can be a challenge. The students are in that “tween” stage where they are trying to decide if they are going to accept or rebel against authority. One minute they are hanging on your every word and the next minute you are getting the adolescent eye roll. However, when Father comes in they are riveted. It doesn’t matter if it is our more senior pastor (Please note, Father, I did not call you old) or our young energetic new priest. They may be challenging him to say something relevant, but they are listening.
I was grateful to have our younger priest stop by for class on Monday evening. The class was working on individual saint reports as a requirement for Confirmation. Father popped in and ended up talking to the students about how they are called to evangelize. This is the perfect segue to talking about the lives of the saints. The saints did not just learn about their faith. They lived their faith. They evangelized others by the way they lived their lives. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary.”
Our young people really are fascinated by priests and religious. The total self-giving of these vocations seems so countercultural. Although, the same level of self-giving should be present in the vocation of marriage, it is not as publicly visible as in the religious vocations. In the next month or so, many of our diocese will be ordaining new priests. I encourage you to take your children to these Ordination Masses. These new priests serve as a powerful witness that God calls each of us to a holy task. It is also a generous act to attend the Mass and prayerfully support these new priests.
Our current shortage of priests is not because God has not called enough young men to the priesthood. It is because not enough young men have answered the call. Make sure that you are not the stumbling block that keeps your son from answering the call to be a priest or your daughter from answering the call to consecrated religious life. Pray for vocations. And don’t pray in some generic way for vocations “out there”. Pray for your own children’s vocations. Pray that they will answer God’s call, whatever it may be.