Written by Father Michael M. Romano
In his message for the 54th World Day of Prayer for Vocations (Sunday, May 7), Pope Francis writes about how we Christians are called to be led by the Spirit for Mission. He states that, when we have experienced God’s love, we cannot help but be transformed and feel the need to share that experience with others. I must admit that oftentimes I have that impulse in my vocations ministry — to share with people the good news of what is occurring in our diocese.
Through various encounters with the seminarians for the Diocese of Camden as well as young men discerning the possibility of the priesthood, I grow ever more convinced that great things are happening here in South Jersey and that the Lord is truly blessing our local church. He has blessed us with the highest number of seminarians our diocese has seen in over 10 years. He continues to inspire other young men from our area to consider the priesthood, a definite blessing. On a more personal level, he blesses me with the opportunity to work with them all, good men striving to follow the Lord’s will for their life, whether to the priesthood or to the married life. I oftentimes feel like the most privileged priest in our diocese because of those experiences.
While there is such good news, the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations is still so necessary, for we cannot grow complacent in our duty to cry out to the Lord asking him to provide us with more clergy and religious. In fact, the Holy Father even states an intention in his message for which we can pray — for priests touched and transformed by the love of God. He writes, “The church needs such priests: serenely confident because they have discovered the true treasure, anxious to go out and joyfully to make it known to all.”
In this annual vocations supplement of The Catholic Star Herald, some of our seminarians share their experiences of how God moves in their lives, even though they, at times, feel unworthy. The example of the Blessed Mother and the saints find a place in their reflections as well. And others share the fruit of their prayer or their experience at a particular Mass. I hope their essays enable you to catch a brief glimpse into the sort of men we have preparing for the priesthood in the Diocese of Camden.
I am also grateful for the contributions of one of our permanent deacons and a woman religious writing of their particular calls to service in the church. Additionally, we get a unique perspective in an essay written from the vantage point of the mother of our diocese’s next priest.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this vocations supplement. Even more, thank you for your continued prayers for an increase in religious vocations from our diocese. Your prayers make such a difference.
Permit me to conclude my contribution with an invitation for you to participate in our sixth annual iRace4Vocations on Sunday, April 30. If you have never taken part before, it is an inspiring day for the people of our diocese to come together to support and promote religious vocations. The Mass with Bishop Sullivan, the run and walk for vocations and the picnic with so many seminarians, priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful is a wonderful expression of our Catholic faith. If you have never participated, find the time to join in this year. People leave so joyfully each year, with a sense of hope for the future and pride in our faith. It is amazing to watch it grow — I would love to have you be a part of this year’s growth.
Father Michael M. Romano is the Director of Priestly Vocations for the Diocese of Camden.