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Vocations

This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday. On this day the gospel reading always speaks of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Traditionally on this Sunday we pray for vocations – to the priesthood, religious life and lay ministries in the Church. The Church needs shepherds who can tend the sheep. The shortage of priests in recent years makes the need for shepherds even more keenly felt. As more and more priests retire or die, there are not enough young men joining the ranks to fill their shoes.

Over the last several years, I have been hoping and praying that the Lord will inspire young men and women from our parish to heed His call to the priesthood and religious life. It seems that my prayers are being answered. An alumnus of our Catholic elementary school, Anthony Davies, has been accepted to St Joseph’s College Seminary and God willing, he may enter Mundelein seminary in four years getting ready to be ordained. Another young man, Brian Richard Brown, who is a regular committed adorer, is joining the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a small contemplative community. You have no idea how these two vocations make my heart sing.

We are a faith-filled parish and we have many wonderful families with children. I wish that more vocations will come from our families. People always complain that we do not have enough priests. If they do not come from our families, where will they come from? I hope and pray that in the next hundred years St Paul of the Cross Parish will give to the Church several priests and nuns, as well as permanent deacons and lay ministers. In this column I would like to focus our attention on vocations to the priesthood and religious life. How can we encourage these vocations and make them flourish? Here are some suggestions.

I became a priest thanks to the prayers and encouragement of my parents. Both my mom and dad told us children that becoming a priest or a nun was the best thing we could do. They encouraged us. They prayed for us. If parents do not hold up vocations to priesthood and religious life as worthy pursuits, children will not consider them as viable life paths. Parents need to pray that their children would want to serve the Church in this fashion. Our parents spoke so glowingly about these vocations that the first three of us entered priesthood and religious life. When parents refuse to support their children when they want to consider a religious vocation, they are resisting the Holy Spirit. I can tell you that we lose some vocations because the parents do not realize that a vocation in the family is a special blessing from God.

Second, we need to teach our children how to pray and help them to become men and women of prayer. Without prayerful families that are deeply rooted in the assiduous practice of the Catholic faith, religious vocations cannot sprout and grow. Recent research on vocations shows that the majority came from large families, prayed on a regular basis, engaged in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and had a devotion to the Blessed Mother.

Third, children need models who can demonstrate to them that priesthood and religious life not only give ample opportunities to serve but also enable them to be happy and fulfilled. If our children do not have contact with happy priests and sisters, they will not be attracted to these vocations. I was drawn to the priesthood especially by the example of Fr Sean MacFerran, an Irish missionary who connected with young people. It is a universal fact that every active priest today was inspired by the joyful witness of some particular priest.

Fourth, recently we formed a Vocations Ministry consisting of eager parishioners who will work to foster vocations in our parish family. If you are a concerned parishioner wondering how we will have enough priests to serve the faithful, please consider joining this group. This group will first of all pray for vocations. Hopefully they will be able to identify prospective candidates to the priesthood and religious life and work with the parents of these young people to nurture their aspirations. If you are interested in being a part of this group, please talk to me. We have also started the practice of entrusting a family with the statue of St Paul of the Cross which they take home to pray for vocations.

Finally, we need the prayers of the entire parish for this intention. I would like to ask particularly the adorers to keep this intention uppermost on their prayer list for the coming year. We need to redouble our prayer. Remember what the Lord said: “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His vineyard.” He is the Lord of the harvest and we need to beseech Him. Getting laborers for His vineyard will not depend on our marketing skills or our advertising. It will depend on the fervor of our prayer. If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the laborers labor.

Over the last hundred years or so, we have grown in numbers. Hopefully our parish can help to fill the thinning ranks of the clergy in the archdiocese. Let us approach the Lord of the harvest and plead with Him to transform our parish into a fertile ground for vocations to the priesthood, religious life and lay ministries in the Church!

May the God of peace go with you!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605
Fax: (847) 825-5186

Mass Schedule

Sunday

7:30 a.m. - Upper Church
9 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
10:30 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
12 p.m. - Upper Church
5:30 p.m. - Upper Church

Monday - Friday

6:25 a.m. - Upper Church
8:30 a.m. - Upper Church

Saturday

8 a.m. - Upper Church
4:30 p.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel