Here in the Diocese of Camden, which covers the six countries of Southern New Jersey, we have a fertile vineyard of need for various ministries. Even with the merger and reconfiguration of many parishes in the diocese, the ongoing need for ministry is always present as we move into the future and are called upon to serve the needs of the parishes of the diocese.
As we have stated in the past, vocations to the various church ministries come from the parishes of the diocese and from the families that make up those parishes. Anyone who is a practicing Catholic can observe on a weekly basis the various ministries celebrated in any given parish.
The ordained ministries of deacon and priest are always before us and are necessary for the celebration of the Eucharist. The equally important life and ministry of consecrated religious life is likewise in the forefront of parish ministry as these women work hand-in-hand with the priests and deacons in the daily ministry to the people of God.
God is calling you to “come and follow me,” but in this day and age, I wonder if any one is listening to God. Jesus has a plan for everyone, whether to marriage, religious life or celibacy. For people who have a daily prayer time, are involved in the parish and do works of mercy, seeking and following the Lord and his routine is a way to pass on to children and young adults the spirit and enthusiasm of the mission of the church.
If children are raised having a relationship with Jesus through the regular celebration of the sacraments, they will not be afraid to give their lives to him and will trust him when they hear his call, regardless of what it is, because they know God loves them. The call and the need is here before us, but few are listening and responding to God’s invitation. It’s a replay of the Gospel story of the young man who wanted to follow Jesus (as narrated in chapter 19 of St. Matthew’s Gospel). He was willing to follow Jesus and when he asked what he had to do, Jesus told him to divest himself of his “baggage” and “Come follow me.” The Gospel says he want away sad, for he had many possessions.
To be called to ordained ministry is not be a pauper. Rather it is to answer the God’s invitation to work with him in his vineyard, and not to be burdened with all the excess baggage of this world. What Jesus meant was that none of these worldly things should keep us from serving God and his people. (Sometimes, things can actually aid us in our ministry). As we read further in St. Matthew’s Gospel of the call of the Twelve Apostles, we can realize that each of these men had a different background. Each one brought to his ministry the simplicity, the expertise, the enthusiasm, and the energy of his lifestyle. All were willing to leave whatever they were doing and follow Jesus and learn from him.
Right now, for the Diocese of Camden, we have 13 men who are in various levels of formation for priestly ministry, and for the first time in many years, they are all from parishes within the Diocese. They are:
St. Peter Parish, Merchantville
Rev. Mr. John Rossi
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Absecon
St. Thomas, Brigantine
St. James, Ventnor
St. Agnes, Blackwood
St. Jude, Blackwood
St. Teresa, Runnemede
Transfiguration, W. Collingswood
Rev. Mr. Jamie King
St. Mary, Cherry Hill
Rev. Mr. Larry Polansky
One of these men will be ordained a transitional deacon on Saturday, May 9, at the Church of the Incarnation, Mantua, and three deacons will be ordained as priests on Saturday, May 16, at St. Peter Celestine Church, Cherry Hill. Why not plan to attend either one of these very inspiring ceremonies and witness the ordination of these young men?
Those in consecrated religious life take a different path to ministry as they seek admission in a religious community, advancing through the steps of aspirant, novice and profession of vows. Their vows are taken just as seriously as the rite of ordination.
The church needs more men and women just like you. If you feel God is calling you, please consider contacting the Vocation Office of the Diocese, 856-583-6170. You may also log on to the web site at camdendiocese.org and click on “Vocations.”
God is calling you. Are you listening to him? He’s waiting for an answer from you.
Father James J. Durkin is director, Office of Vocations, Diocese of Camden.