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Activities encourage response to God’s call to priesthood

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BOSTON ­— “When a vocation goes unanswered it is not only a sadness for the one who declines God’s call, but also a sadness for the entire Catholic community who has just lost another priest,” Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley wrote in his recent Pastoral letter on Vocations.

“The crisis is not a lack of vocations, but rather a lack of responses,” he continued.

In the coming weeks, the Archdiocese of Boston will be hosting a wide variety of events to encourage young men to respond to God’s call.

“Vocation is everybody’s business,” said Father Dan Hennessey, assistant vocation director for the archdiocese. “This is not just for the Vocations Office.”

“It is very important to Archbishop Seán that we, as an archdiocese, focus on vocations,” stressed Father Hennessey.

In order to reach men who are contemplating the priesthood, but are unsure about what ordained life is like, the Vocations Office is creating an interactive CD-ROM that will “offer a full and realistic overview of both the priesthood and seminary life,” said Father Hennessey.

According to Father Hennessey, the mini CD-ROM will be small enough to hand out with a business card, but will be interactive. It will likely be available later this year.

For high-school-aged young men, the archdiocese is sponsoring a St. Andrew dinner on Feb. 1 at Boston College High School in Dorchester. The dinner presents an opportunity for high-school juniors and seniors to hear Archbishop O’Malley and other diocesan priests speak of their experience of ordained life as well as their “vocation stories.”

This dinner is one of four scheduled within the archdiocese. The first St. Andrew dinner was held in November at St. Bridget parish in South Boston. Over 50 young men from 15 different parishes attended the event, Father Hennessey said.

In addition, St. John’s Seminary in Brighton is hosting a “Come and See” day on Jan. 30 for any high-school junior or senior interested in experiencing seminary life for a day.

For college-aged men or older, the Vocations Office has arranged a Discernment Retreat to be held from Feb. 10-12 also at St. John’s Seminary.

According to Father Hennessey, the retreat will provide “quiet time for men to pray and discern about their vocation” as well as several opportunities to converse with Archbishop O’Malley.

Meanwhile, Father Hennessey and his fellow assistant vocation director Father John Currie are travelling to parishes and area universities to speak God’s call and about the vocation to the priesthood.

Father Hennessey stated there has been “a very good response” to all of these events. He commended the parish priests who have been “instrumental” in promoting vocations in their parishes.

“Many priests in the archdiocese are interested in promoting vocations and have done so for years very successfully,” he praised. “We’re trying to focus on supporting the men who have heard a call from God and are discerning and preparing for the priesthood.”

Paraphrasing a quote from John Paul II’s autobiographical book “Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination,” Father Hennessey said, “a priest is a man who offers his humanity to God so that he might be an instrument of God’s.”

“That’s what we need,” he continued. “We need men in the Archdiocese of Boston to offer themselves to God to serve the Church which is the Body of Christ.”

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