By happy coincidence, the ordination of three transitional deacons occurs the same weekend as the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations. What could be more appropriate than celebrating the day with the ordination of three men who will be ordained to the priesthood next year?
Our three ordinands are Michael Jayson Baynham, who has been prepared for the priesthood at Holy Trinity Seminary in the Diocese of Dallas and at the Theological College at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., Martin Castañeda, whose priestly formation has been at Holy Trinity Seminary and St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, and Javier Alberto Diaz Servin, from our own Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary. Their ordination will be held at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe at 10:00 A.M., Saturday, April 16. On May 21, I am also pleased to preside at the ordination of four young men to the priesthood next month. I will write more about that later.
The vocations of these seven men are the result of prayer, call and discernment by the individuals, their families, their parish communities and the seminary formation process. In his letter on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Our Holy Father Pope Francis calls on us to reflect on the Church, the apostolic community, “and to give thanks to the role of the community in each person’s vocation journey.”
“The call of God,” the Pope reminds us, “comes to us by means of a mediation which is communal. God calls us to become a part of the Church and, after we have reached a certain maturity within it, he bestows upon us a specific vocation.” That moment of maturity and conversion, of which he speaks, occurs when we become aware of the reality that “the Lord’s merciful action forgives our sins and opens us to the new life which takes shape in the call to discipleship and mission.”
Conversion and vocation, the Holy Father states, “are two sides of the same coin, and continually remain interconnected through the whole of the missionary disciple’s life.” The call to priestly vocation is both communal and universal. Communal in the sense that the communities of the family and the parish are the seed beds where vocations are discovered and nurtured; and universal in the sense that vocations are intrinsic to the Church. Pope Francis reminds us that “no one is called exclusively for a particular region, or for a group or for an ecclesial movement, rather for the Church, and for the world.”
In conclusion the Holy Father adds, “We ask the Lord to grant to all those who are on a vocational journey a deep sense of belonging to the Church; and that the Holy Spirit may strengthen among Pastors, and all the faithful, a deeper sense of communion, discernment and spiritual fatherhood and motherhood.”
Please join me in praying Pope Francis’ prayer for vocations:
Father of mercy, who gave your Son for our salvation and who strengthens us always with the gifts of your Spirit, grant us Christian communities which are alive, fervent and joyous, which are fonts of fraternal life, and which nurture in the young the desire to consecrate themselves to you and to the work of evangelization. Sustain these communities in their commitment to offer appropriate vocational catechesis and ways of proceeding towards each one’s particular consecration. Grant the wisdom needed for vocational discernment, so that in all things the greatness of your merciful love may shine forth. May Mary, Mother and guide of Jesus, intercede for each Christian community, so that, made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, it may be a source of true vocations for the service of the holy People of God. Amen