Last Sunday we celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday and we were given the opportunity to remember, celebrate, and imitate God’s great mercy toward us. Next Sunday, April 25, the 4th Sunday of Easter, we have another opportunity to celebrate who Jesus is to us. It is called Good Shepherd Sunday; in the Gospel we will hear Jesus describe himself as a Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. And perhaps for obvious reasons, this Sunday is also designated as a special day to pray for today’s shepherds, and to especially pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. I invite you to do that this week, but more than that, I invite our young people to consider a possible call to the priesthood and/or religious life, and I invite all of us to encourage and even suggest such a vocation to some young person we know who might seems to have the qualities. Studies of recent vocations show that such explicit encouragement from others was a significant factor in beginning to think about the possibility and eventually making the decision. Planting the seed is helpful, even if it takes some time to germinate. May I also suggest that during this week you think about ways we as a parish might encourage our young people to consider this way of life. It is a way of life that is both challenging and extremely rewarding.
As you know we have just entered into what the AOD is calling “Families of Parishes.” While we remain an independent parish, we are asked to collaborate significantly with Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of La Salette, and Divine Providence Lithuanian. The Archdiocese has been open in saying that this is being driven largely by a priest shortage. The Archdiocese expects to have 80 fewer priests to serve parishes in just 10 years, so the need is great. Great job security!
On April 16, 1223, St. Francis presented his Rule to the Pope and received his approval for the Franciscans to be an Order in the Catholic church. Every year on that day, Franciscans renew their vows as a way of remembering that event. We friars recommitted ourselves to the Franciscan way of life during our morning prayer that day. Thank you for your encouragement and support! Since “We are a Franciscan Body of Christ embracing all people through liturgy and service” (our mission statement), we can recommit ourselves to this mission during these days as well.