Bishop William Murphy has called on the priests and people of the Rockville Centre diocese to join him in “praying for, encouraging and supporting men who may be open to hear a call from God and respond to that invitation.”
In a letter sent to all priests of the diocese on June 12, Bishop Murphy called attention to the Biking4Vocations Pilgrimage that will culminate this coming Sunday, June 14, at Saint Agnes Cathedral.
“I will greet Father Joe Fitzgerald, Father Marc Swartvagher and three seminarians, Stephen Rooney, Dominik Wegiel and Steven Diaz, who are covering a 1400-mile journey to spread the message that a call from God to be a priest is the greatest gift any man could receive from a loving Father who calls priests by name to follow his Son, Jesus Christ,” the bishop wrote.
“In a real and concrete way Father Joe’s (Biking4Vocations) initiative is the kick-off and the symbol of what I want to say to you on this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” he said. “We need to harness the power of prayer and the enthusiasm of our people to make vocations to the priesthood a major part of our life as Church.”
The bishop continued, “I do not hesitate to ask you to re-commit yourselves to praying for and encouraging vocations as an integral part of your priestly witness in our parishes, schools and places of formation and witness. Integral to this is a determination that we priests will be the leaders to awaken in our lay faithful a new consciousness for a culture of vocations.”
“You all know that I will not use the term “priest shortage” because it is negative and it has become a buzz word for people who want to advance alternatives to the priesthood that would endanger the very inner fabric of our life as a Church faithful to the teaching and the command of Jesus Christ. Still, I recognize and am deeply conscious of the reality we face as this local Church. Pope Saint John Paul II in 2003 wrote to priests on Holy Thursday, there will never be sufficient priests for the preaching of the Gospel and the pastoral care of the People of God. We know that is surely true here. You, my brother priests, deserve the applause and the support of us all, beginning with me, for your generosity and your priestly zeal!
“While I have the chief responsibility for encouraging vocations and have been blessed by excellent vocation directors throughout these 14 years, I am asking you, my brother priests, to join me and Father Joe in a new and concerted effort to deepen awareness of the need for vocations to the priesthood in our Diocese.
The bishop stressed that this “we are not embarking on a ‘program’ for vocations. Any group can do that. As Church we are a network of relationships, all held together by the powerful inner dynamic of the Holy Spirit. … We all have a stake in praying for, encouraging and supporting men who may be open to hear a call from God and respond to that invitation to “follow me.”
Bishop Murphy said that all priests that will receive a packet during the summer in anticipation of new endeavors this fall which will include:
– Petitions that can be used during September and October to pray for priestly vocations at all Masses.
– Prayer cards for priestly vocations to be distributed widely. “Use them at parish meetings and gatherings. Urge families to use them at home. Thus we fulfill the Lord’s command to ask the Master of the harvest to send laborers into the harvest. Thus we help open up the hearts of our people in their families and in all parish gatherings to promote and encourage vocations.”
Bishop Murphy has asked that on the weekend of October 3/4 every priest preach on the co-responsibility we ALL have to pray for and encourage vocations and said that on Saturday, October 10, there will be a Family Fest for Vocations at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. Further details on the event will be forthcoming.
To read the Bishop’s entire letter, click here.