Last night the Vocations Office held its third Holy Hour and Discernment Night of the spring semester. This monthly event is offered to those men who have begun the vocations application process with the Archdiocese of Newark. Each month, these men come together in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and focus on a specific reading from Scripture. A guest homilist preaches on the reading as it relates to discernment and vocation. This month’s reading focused on the call of Abraham, where God asks Abram to leave EVERYTHING and He would bless Abram in abundance by making of him a great nation. (Genesis 12:1-9)
Our guest homilist, Fr. Colin Kay, Parochial Vicar at St. Anne’s Church in Fair Lawn and part of the Archdiocesan Vocations Team, preached about the beauty of the diocesan priestly vocation. Fr. Kay’s own personal vocation story led him to a Monastery in Vermont for seven years and eventually a “coming down off the mountain” experience, discerning that God was calling him to diocesan priesthood. Fr. Kay explained that Abram’s call is his call; it’s the call of all of us lived out in different ways.
Fr. Kay’s homily touched upon the beauty of religious life and marriage, explaining that each vocation can be seen as a “tight squeeze” or a “funneling of all of your gifts, talents, opportunities in life” into a specific charism or religious community-serving the poor, prayer, nursing, or teaching. In a complimentary way, Fr. Kay illustrated that diocesan priesthood can be seen as a tight squeeze, or a funneling in reverse, that opens one up to all that life offers—being with the people in all of life’s instances.
Fr. Kay’s words called to mind the day to day life of a diocesan priest, who can sometimes experience a range of emotions through his different responsibilities. The priest can start his day by offering Mass, then presiding at a funeral. Later in the day, a priest could meet with a couple preparing for marriage and then receive a phone call from a parishioner going through a crisis. He spoke of the power of the priest’s presence in the life of the parishioners—from the daily Mass attendees, to the homebound to the kids on the school basketball court to a young family. This, said Fr. Kay, is the challenge of a parish priest—to find God in each instance, challenging the men with the question, “Can you see God and His love in each person, in each situation?”
This is a charge for all Christians—married, single, or religious—to find God in the day to day of our lives. The parish priest, however, is called to find God in his own life and then help others find God in theirs. This is not an easy task. As Father Kay likened parish priesthood to the range of emotions expressed in the Psalms of the Old Testament, the priest in a very human way is called to be present in order to assist others in their own “tight squeezes” of life. By doing so, this exhilarating and amazing call to diocesan priesthood, like Abraham’s call, will result in God blessing the priest in abundance.
Please continue to pray for vocations. We ask your prayers for the men who are in the process of discernment with the Archdiocese of Newark, our seminarians in formation and those anticipating Ordination this coming May.
This blog will contain resources, reflections, homilies, and articles to help you in your discernment.