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Vocations

Over the last couple of weeks we priests have received so many gestures of support and love from you, our parishioners. During the picnic on Saturday, you even made a public gesture to stand with us. In the name of the three of us, I want to say “Thank you!” We feel the love. Not a day goes by when I do not thank the Lord for giving me the privilege to be your pastor.

All of us are aware of the alarming shortage of priests. We are afraid that the Church is going to suffer drastic decline because of the shortage. We also worry that the present scandals may make the situation even worse. How do we stem the tide?

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus speaks to the seventy-two before they are sent out into the field. Jesus says, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his vineyard.” If you look at the numbers, the Lord was right. Whereas in 1987 there was one priest for every 1,000 registered Catholics in the US, in 2011 the rate had gone down to one priest for every 1,600 registered Catholics, a decline of 60 percent. The field is certainly ready for harvest especially in certain places like Africa and South America where the large number of Catholics are in urgent need of priests and religious. Even in the West, millions of Catholics need to be re-evangelized because many of them have little or no religious education. Quite a few Catholics in our country are Catholics in name only. The harvest is abundant and it is calling for more workers.

“What are we to do?” one may ask. I would like to suggest three things that we all can do quite easily.

First of all, we need to pray. That is what Jesus counseled His disciples to do. He said, “Pray to the Lord of the harvest.” When we pray we do not get discouraged by the dismal numbers. We realize that He is the Lord of the harvest. This Church is His, and not ours. The Holy Spirit is very creative and will always find ways to send laborers. When as a little boy I learnt to be an altar-server, I never imagined that someday a married man would be at the altar assisting the priest as a deacon. Once upon a time the parishes were completely run and managed by the priests and the nuns. To some extent because of the lack of priests and religious, lay ministries have flourished in the Church. All of us in the pews have come to realize that we are the Church, not only the priests, the bishops and the religious. If we keep praying, the Lord will provide.

Second, we need to encourage young people to consider vocations to the priesthood, religious life and to lay ministries as a wonderful life path. When I was growing up, both my father and mother encouraged us to consider those vocations. In fact my dad would often repeat to me and my brother: “The best thing a smart boy can do is to become a priest.” He never pressured or compelled us. In response to his encouragement both my brother and I entered the junior seminary. My sister became a Franciscan nun. If children do not hear such words of encouragement, the call of God gets stifled by the alluring noises of the world. Don Bosco, a great saint of the Church, used to say that one out of every three boys has a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. Parents and grandparents should talk about the joy of serving the Lord in the Church. I wish that more young people from our parish will become priests, nuns and lay ministers. That is a blessing I keep praying for.

Finally, we must become the laborers who enter God’s vineyard with our sleeves rolled up. By our baptism, we have been given a mission to establish God’s Kingdom wherever we are. Our parish has many opportunities to get involved. Five years ago, a young mother of three called me asking me to meet with me. She told me that God had been nudging her to start a group that will make service to the poor its focus. From the time I came here, I had been wondering about and praying for exactly this. This young mom, with the help of a few other parishioners, launched a group that calls itself “The Servants of St Francis.” In the last five years they have accomplished much on behalf of God’s poor. Here is one way we can all join God’s labor force.

Right now we have our “Vocations Ministry” that seeks to work towards nurturing religious vocations in our community. I am happy to report that finally we have one of our own, Tony Davies, who is pursuing the path to the priesthood. He is enrolled in St Joseph’s Seminary to complete his undergraduate degree. If everything goes according to plan, he will be entering the major seminary in four years and ordained a priest in another five. Please keep him in your prayers.

Please keep praying for vocations in your personal as well as in your family prayer. May God bless you and smile on 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