This year, as I was preparing for this special moment in the life of a bishop-calling men of all walks of life and backgrounds to become presbyters (see The Catholic Advocate, May 21)-I couldn't help but recall the words of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI on April 18 at the gathering of seminarians and young people at St. Joseph's Seminary in New York:
"The people of God look to you to be holy priests, on a daily journey of conversion, inspiring in others the desire to enter more deeply into the ecclesial life of believers. I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk heart to heart with Him. Reject any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or conceit. Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 33). Dear seminarians, I pray for you daily. Remember that what counts before the Lord is to dwell in His love and to make His love shine forth for others."
Each of the nine new priests here in the Archdiocese of Newark is truly excited by the journey he will be taking and each will need the love and support of you, the parishioners he will be serving. I know you will be a source of strength and inspiration to our new priests, and to all priests. I thank you today on their behalf.
While Newark continues to benefit from larger-thanaverage ordination classes in our nation, many of us tend to forget that vocations to priesthood and religious life don't just occur out of nothing. They are nurtured by parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, clergy, Religious and parishioners who encourage young men and women to listen to that "inner voice," which some describe as the start of the process of discernment. Without that active encouragement and a challenge to higher ideals, a priestly vocation cannot be developed and nurtured.
The Holy Father echoed this thought when he told the young people at St. Joseph's Seminary: "Let us always appreciate that it is in families that vocations are given life."
From the exuberant response of the thousands of young people that day in April to Pope Benedict's words, I believe that many of our youth would welcome the encouraging words: "Have you ever thought about..." from family and friends.
Yes, today is a time to rejoice in our new ordinandi. It is also a time for us to recommit ourselves, the people of God, to be the flint that lights the spark of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.