By Father Michael Romano
Shortly after last year’s priesthood ordination of Fathers Anthony Infanti and Joshua Nevitt, a visitor contacted me to comment on his experience at the Cathedral that day. Having not attended an ordination in our diocese for some years, he marveled at the fact that the Cathedral was standing room only an hour before the ordination and that people even stood outside throughout the ceremony. The support of the faithful in the Diocese of Camden was palpable that day. This visitor remarked that it was obvious the diocese had a culture that both encouraged and supported vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Following a summer of devastating news for our Church and seemingly endless revelations, I worried that such a culture in South Jersey would change. Then, on Sunday, March 31, in the rain and the cold, hundreds of our parishioners showed up at Washington Lake Park for the eighth annual iRace4Vocations. On the worst weather day ever for iRace, the second largest number of people turned out. This time, I called that visitor saying his insight from ordination was spot on. The iRace4Vocations committee believed that this year especially the event was necessary and they were so encouraged by the way people showed up!
In his message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis writes of the need for courage to take a risk with and for the Lord in responding to his call. For our seminarians in formation, responding to the call of the Lord during this current crisis requires more courage than in the past. Be assured that your support and encouragement certainly assists them as they strive to discern the potential call to the priesthood.
Each Tuesday, our seminarians provide a blog post on our website (www.camdenpriest.org). Not surprisingly, many of the entries this year reflected on the Church crisis and how it affects our seminarians. This year’s Vocation Supplement in the Catholic Star Herald shares some of their insights. Their resolute commitment to grow in holiness as a response to the crisis has been a source of hope and inspiration for me. I pray it can be for you as well.
The supplement also includes a contribution from one of the women religious serving in our diocese, a recently ordained permanent deacon and one of our parishioners in diaconal formation.
With gratitude for the many ways the faithful in the Diocese of Camden continue to support and encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life, may the articles in this supplement assist to increase the culture that prays for our seminarians and inspire young men and women to be open to the call of the Lord in their lives!
Father Michael Romano is the director of priestly vocations for the Diocese of Camden.