by on March 30th, 2019

By John Waters

On the Feast of the Annunciation, Pope Francis signed his Apostolic Exhortation for the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.

“Christus vivit – Christ lives” is a letter to the world’s young people that represents the fruit of the October Synod. The Vatican will release the full text in the near future.

The Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto contains the walls of what tradition holds to be the house in which the Virgin Mary lived when the Angel Gabriel announced that she was to give birth to Jesus.

During his visit to Loreto, Pope Francis spoke about the Exhortation and explained that there are 3 sections to the document, which mirror 3 phases of the Synod process. To explain this further, he outlined this process whilst referencing the story of the Annunciation.

“The first moment, that of listening, is manifested by the words of the angel: ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.’ It is always God who takes the initiative in calling people to follow Him”, said the Pope.

He went on to explain that young people need to find moments of quiet and stillness to listen to God’s call and that God’s voice will not be heard amongst noise and agitation.

Instead, quiet and stillness will help young people discover that “His plan for our personal and social life is not perceived by remaining on the surface, but by descending to a deeper level, where moral and spiritual forces act. It is there that Mary invites young people to come down and tune in to God’s action.”

Then comes the phase of discernment, which is “expressed in Mary’s words: ‘How will this happen?’ Mary does not doubt; her question is not a lack of faith; on the contrary, she expresses her own desire to discover God’s ‘surprises’. In her there is attention to grasping all the demands of God’s plan for her life, to knowing it in its facets, to make one’s collaboration more responsible and complete.”

Pope Francis said this is the proper attitude with which to follow God’s call in our lives, since this attitude allows people to discover not only what God’s plan is for their lives, but also how God’s grace will help them to develop the skills and abilities needed to live out his call for them.

“Decision is the third step that characterizes every Christian vocation, and it is made explicit by Mary’s response to the angel: ‘Let it be done to me according to your word.’ Her ‘yes’ to God’s plan of salvation, implemented by means of the Incarnation, is the handing over to Him of her whole life. It is the ‘yes’ of full trust and total openness to God’s will,” said the Pope.

He highlighted the Virgin Mary as the model Christian disciple and suggested that today’s young people try to imitate her example as they search for God’s plan for their lives.

The Pope pointed out that Mary had lived a multitude of family relationships.

She was a daughter, a fiancée, a bride and a mother, so all young people, no matter what their role in life and calling from God, can find an example and inspiration in her.

(Originally posted here:

by on March 25th, 2019

Gabriel, one of our seminarians, speaks about some of those who inspired him to consider the call to priesthood.

by on March 20th, 2019


Recently, I was asked about priestly celibacy by a person interested in becoming Catholic. The practice of priestly celibacy is viewed with suspicion, he explained, because Protestants are unfamiliar with it and it seems unnatural. Besides that, his is a timely question given that some people have pointed to celibacy as having a direct causal link to the abuse crisis in the Church.

Celibacy, or chastity, seems like a stumbling block for people. What is celibacy, exactly? According to the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, celibacy is “the state or condition of those who have chosen to remain unmarried.”

But why would a man choose that life, or why is this the standard discipline for priests in the Roman (Latin-rite) Catholic Church?

First, the nature of the priesthood has to be understood. Simply put, each man who becomes a priest becomes a minister of Jesus Christ’s own priesthood. Jesus’ priesthood is made visible and present through these ordained ministers. They participate in Jesus’ life and priesthood in a specific way. Therefore, a look at Scripture and how Jesus himself lived is helpful to see the foundations on which priest’s life is modeled.

Jesus did not marry. He also spoke positively about those who remain celibate “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:12). Indeed, Jesus chose, from among his followers, certain men to be with him and become “fishers of men” (Mt 4:19; Mk 1:17). His invitation to them was to leave everything behind for the sake of the kingdom of God. Therefore, this practice of total dedication to God in and through Christ goes back to the very beginning of discipleship. Today as well, men are chosen by God to “to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord” (CCC, No. 1579).

Jesus is not the only person in the Bible, however, to have lived a single life with the intention of being consecrated for God’s purposes. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, appears to have remained celibate. He was called from his youth (see Jer 1:6-7) and never mentions a wife or family like some of the other prophets. Another example, closer to the time of Jesus, is John the Baptist. The last in the long line of biblical prophets, John’s entire life was lived as a sign that pointed to Jesus, even from his time in the womb (Lk 1:41-44). Everything about him pointed to the transcendent realm, including his choice to forego a wife and children. While it is true that celibacy was not a common practice at the time of Christ, it was not unheard of. In fact, there are examples from Qumran, a desert community in existence around the time of Jesus, of a type of celibacy lived in community.

Additionally, priests are not the only celibates in the Catholic Church. The consecrated life in its various forms entails some type of commitment to chastity, either a promise, private vow, public vow or some other sacred bond.

Getting back to the definition of celibacy mentioned above, it related only to the state of being unmarried. Any discussion on celibacy must relate back to chastity, which is the virtue by which a person integrates his or her sexuality in a healthy way appropriate to his or her state in life. The goal of chastity is the wholeness and integrity of the person in his bodily and spiritual being. This is true for married persons as well as celibate persons. However, chastity in the context of consecrated life entails refraining from any behaviors in the realm of sexuality that belong properly to marriage, as well as avoiding any offenses against chastity such as masturbation, pornography or fornication. Religious chastity is also a gift to those called by God to lead a life totally dedicated to him.

Is it “unnatural” to lead a celibate life and, therefore, practice continence within chastity? In one sense, yes, and in another, no. The proper path of sexual expression for most people is that of marriage, in which two persons give each other their bodies as “a sign and pledge of spiritual communion” (CCC, No. 2360). This is a great good, and marriage, while not easy, is the natural path that most people take to live the vocation to love God and neighbor to which we are all called.

There are some, however, as Jesus points out in the Gospels, who renounce marriage and the goods of marriage (holiness together as husband and wife, welcoming and educating children) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Not only that, the fact that some people do this is a very good thing.

Living out chastity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven means to live one’s life as a sign that points to God all the time. The married state is good and beautiful, and at the same time God is more beautiful and better. He is so good, in fact, that it is legitimate to offer everything to him and live for him alone. A consecrated person, whether priest or religious, witnesses to that by the very way he or she lives. The highest form of love is not the love between husband and love, it is the love of God, charity. This charity can and should inform all other relationships of love. This means that they are rooted in a person’s relationship with God and lead to a further and deeper love of God.

In addition, Jesus tells us that there will be no marriage in heaven. Rather, he says, in “the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven” (Mt 22:30). For this reason, the consecrated life or the celibate life is an eschatological signpost that points to heaven. Essentially, the message is: Remember where you ultimately want to be headed. Remember your end. Do what it takes to get there.

Returning to an earlier question, living chastity for the kingdom of heaven is not “unnatural” — it is supernatural. It is to live as God’s messenger, all day, every day. Like all vocations, that takes faith, hope and charity. It also takes prayer, asceticism, more prayer and fidelity to the age-old practices that help form the interior spiritual life. Good, holy friendships are also a wonderful aid to chastity, no matter what a person’s vocation is.

The goal in each vocation is to love God with all one’s heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love one’s neighbor like one’s self. To each person, God will give the graces necessary to grow in holiness if and when we cooperate with him.

Sister Anna Marie McGuan, R.S.M., is Director of Christian Formation in the Diocese of Knoxville.

(Originally posted here:

by on March 12th, 2019

For all men and women being called by Christ to follow Him as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers, that they will persevere in the face of temptations against faithfulness to their call…

17th March: Second Sunday of Lent; St. Patrick, bishop
That our priests, who bring us to the mountain of Christ at every Mass and feed us with His transforming love in the Holy Eucharist, will be strengthened in their life and vocation…

24th March: Third Sunday of Lent
That like Moses, young people will enter more deeply into conversation with the Lord in prayer as they seek to discover their vocations in Christ…

25th March: The Annunciation of the Lord
That through the intercession of our Heavenly Mother, we will be blessed with abundant vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life…

31st March: Fourth Sunday of Lent

For the faithful response of all persons now being called to seek out those who are lost and bring them back to life in Christ by serving Him and His Church as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers…

by on February 12th, 2019

Bartek, one of our seminarians, speaks about how his family & friends reacted when he told them he was being called to priesthood.

by on February 8th, 2019

Gabriel, one of our seminarians, speaks about the doubt of not being good enough to be a priest.

by on February 7th, 2019

This morning I’m sitting in an airport in Italy on my way to Brussels trying to figure out if I ought to go to the Netherlands in three days since my plans in Germany were canceled.

This is no grand European vacation. It’s just my life. For nearly seven years I’ve been a hobo missionary, living out of my car in the States and out of a carry-on suitcase abroad, traveling the world to tell people about the fierce, tender, unceasing, life-changing love of our God. Sometimes I have events scheduled six months in advance; other times I wake up in the morning not knowing what state I’ll spend the night in.

It’s a life of near-constant discernment, trying to figure out where to go and when, how long to stay and what to speak on. But I don’t spend a lot of time sitting in prayer waiting for angels to descend and hand me an itinerary. In fact, I discern in just the same way I tell others to discern: I’ve largely quit seeking God’s will.

Given that discernment is a prayerful attempt to figure out God’s will, this sure seems counter-intuitive. But hear me out on this one. We spend a lot of our lives discerning—not just figuring out whether we’re being called to marriage or consecrated life, but trying to determine God’s will for our families, our careers, our diets, our reading lists. Desiring to be in God’s will is essential to the Christian life.

But those of us who are concerned with doing God’s will can easily fall into a dangerous trap: We seek God’s will above all things. Even above God. We use him as a Magic 8-Ball, going to prayer only to figure things out and not to come to know him better. We treat his will like a scavenger hunt set up by a mischievous (or sadistic) higher power who sends us signs and then laughs (or rages) when we don’t notice them. We obsess over ourselves and our skills and our desires and our future and call it prayer.

Healthier discernment, I think, requires us to stop seeking God’s will and start seeking God, to stop using him as a fortune-teller and start looking to him as Lord and lover of souls. If we run after the Lord, we will find ourselves in his will.

Ultimately, while I take my plans to prayer, I speak to the Lord about them and then leave them at his feet. I try not to insist on working out every detail there in the chapel, on interrupting my prayer to double check flight times and degree prerequisites. Instead, I spend serious time in silent prayer every day and I trust.

I trust that if I’m in a state of grace and running after Jesus, he’s either going to form my heart to desire what he desires, or he’s going to stop me before I do something stupid, or he’s going to fix it afterward. I sit before him every day trying to love him more and more and then I live my life. And I try not to lose peace over confusion or uncertainty, because I know that God delights in me. I know that if I’m earnestly trying to live in his will, he’s not going to punish me (here or hereafter) for getting it wrong.

It’s entirely possible that I’m going to go to my judgment and find the triune God standing baffled before me, wondering why on earth I thought I ought to be homeless and unemployed for the sake of the kingdom. There’s a reason people don’t live this way, and perhaps I’ve gotten it totally wrong and I was really supposed to be an accountant in Idaho or something.

Still, I expect to see pleasure mixed in with the bafflement. “Oh, but honey, well done. It was a weird life you chose, but you tried so hard. You got it wrong, but you sure were seeking me.”

I think he delights in my efforts, however ridiculous they might be, and I find great peace in that. I can’t mess up discernment so badly that I ruin his plan for me, because ultimately his plan is for my holiness. If I’m seeking him, he’ll accomplish that, whatever odd paths it might take.

So if you find yourself stressing out about figuring out God’s will, here’s my advice: Stop seeking God’s will and start seeking God. Make time for silent prayer every day, not to figure out your future but to learn to love him. Then make what seems like the best choice. Don’t wait for a sign. If priesthood doesn’t seem like a terrible idea, just enter the seminary. If you might want to be a missionary, just apply. Don’t sit paralyzed by lack of certainty; pray and then act and trust that God will bring good out of your good intentions.

By Meg Hunter-Kilmer

(Article sourced here on 07/02/2019:

by on February 7th, 2019

Prayer of the Faithful – February 2019 (Year C)

3rd February: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For those being called to the way of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom as priests, sisters and brothers, that they will be encouraged to follow the Lord, faithful to His choice of them…

10th February: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For all men and women being called by Jesus to teach the Gospel as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers, that the joy of the Lord will remain their strength during their discernment, formation and mission…

17th February: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
That all those being called to follow Jesus in the priesthood or consecrated life will allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen them each day in answering this call…

24th February: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
For perseverance in sincere prayer on the part of the faithful, asking the Lord for holy vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life…

3rd March: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
That the Lord will bless us with vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life to serve as teachers to his flock…

by on January 28th, 2019

In our latest video, here's Bartek, one of our seminarians, with some advice for anyone considering the call to #priesthood!

by on January 20th, 2019

Gabriel, one of our seminarians here in Armagh, speaks about how he discovered God was calling him to priesthood.

by on January 11th, 2019

With thanks to James and @detroitpriest

by on January 10th, 2019

(Article by Alanna Burg, originally posted at

Knowing that we are called to follow the Will of God and being able to discern His Will are two very different things. Do you ever feel like asking God for a neon sign to guide you in your next step in life? Usually, God does not send neon “go here, do that” signs.

So how do we hear God’s voice in our lives?

Mostly we think about this in the large decisions in life but it first starts with hearing God in the small daily choices we make when we pay attention to the movements of the Spirit.

This infographic was based on an article from You may find the original version, written by Fr. Henry Vargos Holguin, here:

by on January 4th, 2019

By Tom Hoopes

J​ust like his father before him, my oldest son entered seminary — and just like me, he didn’t stay. I hope my other sons will give seminary a try also — and I pray that one is called to be a priest.

Here are the reasons I think they should want to receive that call.

Be a priest because the world needs heroes.

I noticed something at this year’s commencement at Benedictine College in Kansas, where I work. The loudest, longest applause of the morning was for those serving the country in the military and those entering religious life.

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” Jesus says. Soldiers do this by putting themselves in danger of a violent death for us. Priests and religious do it when they offer their lives in the slow martyrdom of a life of service.

It is right to call them heroes.

Be a priest because without priests, we have no access to Christ.

Before ascending into heaven, Christ said, “Behold, I am with you until the end of time.” He kept that promise in an astonishing way: the Eucharist. The Eucharistic host is no longer bread; it is Christ himself, truly present.

This is what we have priests for: To bring us the Eucharist — and to prepare us for it in Baptism and Confirmation, bring its healing power to us in the sacrament of the Sick, create strong marriages for more souls to receive it, and provide confession to cleanse us to receive it.

Be a priest to forgive sins.

The importance of confession is hard to exaggerate. It was the only sacrament Jesus instituted after the Resurrection, when he breathed on the Apostles and said, “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven.”

Confession was the constant subject of urgent appeals from St. John Paul II, and Pope Francis has taken up the same call early and often.

In 2013, he said, “I go to confession every two weeks.”
In 2014, he confessed in view of cameras to make a point, saying, “Do not be afraid of Confession!”
By 2018, his 24-hour confession initiative had become a “worldwide hit.”
Jesus said, “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” In confession, a priest gives the greatest gift possible, worth more than the whole world: He restores penitents’ souls.

Be a priest to be a living icon of Christ.

Jesus’s real presence in the Eucharist is crucial, but Jesus Christ did not come just as a Presence. He came as a man. That is how the incarnation works. “The whole of Christ’s life was a continual teaching,” St. John Paul II said, “his silences, his miracles, his gestures, his prayer, his love for people, his special affection for the little and the poor.”

Jesus Christ was a man with a face. The human heart still needs to see a man behaving in a Christlike way to fully understand Christ’s message. We need someone who “acts in the person of Christ.”  We need priests.

Be a priest because the world needs fathers.

In his new book on the Our Father, Pope Francis talks about our “fatherless society” saying that “particularly in Western culture, the figure of the father is seen as being symbolically absent, vanished, removed.”

“Things go from one extreme to the other,” he says. “The problem in our day no longer seems to be that of the intrusive presence of fathers, but rather … their desertion. Fathers are sometimes so focused on themselves and their work, and occasionally on their individual fulfillment, that they forget their families.”

Without fathers, though, young people are “instead filled with idols, their hearts stolen away; they are driven to dream up amusements and pleasures but are given no jobs, they are duped by the god of money and denied true wealth.”

A priest can’t take the place of a father in the home. A priest isn’t a dad. But priests are true fathers. They preside over the most important moments of our lives. They are male figures to model ourselves after. They huddle with us in the corner, listen to our problems, and advise and absolve us.

Be a priest to expand your family.

Last, Jesus gives the apostles an extraordinary reason to leave their families and follow him.

“There is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands,” he says.

Priests say that one of the most difficult aspects of being a priest is transferring from one parish to another. It feels like being uprooted from your family.

But the bonds you make in Christ last forever.

(Article from ​

by on January 4th, 2019

Prayer of the Faithful – January 2019 (Year C)

6th January: The Epiphany of the Lord
That all those called to share the promise of the Gospel of Christ Jesus through their vocations as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers, will do so with humble confidence in the commission of God’s grace which has been given to them…
13th January: The Baptism of the Lord
That all members of our parish will deepen their baptismal responsibility to foster vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life among our young people through prayer and by inviting them to consider that call…
20th January: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
That all those discerning God’s call to them to follow the unique paths of holiness as priests, deacons or in the consecrated life, will heed our Blessed Mother’s counsel to do whatever He tells them in loving obedience…
27th January: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
For all men and women being called by Jesus to teach the Gospel as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers, that the joy of the Lord will remain their strength during their discernment…
3rd February: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

For those being called to the way of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom as priests, sisters and brothers, that they will be encouraged to follow the Lord, faithful to His choice of them…

by on December 20th, 2018

​4 Things Every Man Discerning the Priesthood Should Know

(by Garrett Johnson)

1. Let’s cut the nonsense, consecrated life is for real men. With this, the idea isn’t to propose some type of feminine exclusion. What I want to say is that the Church needs people that are courageous, generous and willing to sacrifice. The renunciation of a family, the total dedication to a religious/apostolic mission, the different vows or promises that are assumed, the responsibility taken on before God and the Church, are very serious realities. In order for them to flower and grow in consecrated life, two things are necessary. In the first place, the Grace of God. In the second, a virile commitment, one that doesn’t give up at the first sight of difficulties but rather hangs on to the Lord’s hand with obdurate humility.  Before assuming a commitment of this caliber, according to the Gospel, it is better to measure one’s own forces.

2. If it isn’t be a saint, why have you come? Consecrated life, like any other vocation, is a path towards holiness and nothing else. When this horizon is lost, one’s life becomes insipid and loses its joy. Allowing God to make us saints is nothing more than being docile and letting ourselves be molded by His love. We can squabble and argue over our plans all we want… but in the end, our holiness and our happiness consist in being conquered by Him. If you have arrived at the door of consecrated life while still stubbornly grasping on to own plans, why have you come?

3. Consecrated life is a life of joy. No one denies the fact that there will be difficulties on the path, just like every other vocation. But to have the opportunity – and the call – to dedicate your life to knowing and serving God cannot be anything but a source of great joy. A joy that transcends the difficulties. Jesus came to share His own joy so that our own might be fulfilled. With their humor, the young guys in the video transmit the wonderful happiness that we discover in a life lived in and for Christ. Pain and joy are so clearly distinguished and anxiously separated in the secular world, In the Christian life, however, they are not only compatible but many times, if understood correctly, the pain maximizes the joy.

On the other hand, this joy is a beautiful sign of authenticity and naturalness. Discovering ourselves to be loved by God frees us from the overly negative judgments that we so often make against ourselves. We see here a joy that is close, natural, fresh,  and authentic.

4. If you don’t need friends, this is not your place. The kryptonite of consecrated life is individualism, while the spinach – Popeye style – is good friends. The sketch presented in the video is full of friendship and camaraderie, of that sense of belonging and of communion that allows us to take on challenges with a willing and positive attitude. The cross that we are called to carry, is carried together, as brothers. Consecrated men are no supermen, they too need a place to rest their hearts, to share difficulties, to regain strength. Friendship and communion, today, are, according to my humble opinion, some of the most precious treasures of consecrated life.

(Article first appeared at ​

by on December 19th, 2018

Home for Christmas and taking some time out to listen to the Lord's call for you? Music can often help so we've created a Spotify Playlist for those discerning the call to priesthood in their lives - and for anyone discerning the Lord's call to them.

If you have any song suggestions, just let us know:, across our social media platforms, or in the Comments below.

Here's the link - enjoy!


by on November 28th, 2018

On November 24th 2018, in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the seminarians of the diocese of Agrigento.

After handing those present the address he had prepared for the occasion, the Pope addressed some impromptu remarks to them.

The following are the Holy Father’s impromptu address and the text prepared for the occasion:

Impromptu Address of the Holy Father

There is a prepared address, with the icon of the disciples of Emmaus, that you can read at home calmly, and reflect upon in peace. I will hand it to the Rector. I feel more at ease speaking a little more spontaneously.

In that address, the last word was “mission”. I liked what the Rector said about the horizon of Albania. Because mission, it is true, is something in which the Spirit drives us to go out, to go out, always to go out; but if there is not the apostolic horizon, there is the danger of making a mistake and going out not to bear a message but to go for a “stroll”, that is to go out in the wrong way. Instead of making a journey of strength, of coming out of oneself, it means going around in a maze, where one never succeeds in finding the way, or one takes the wrong road. “How can I be sure that my apostolic outgoing is what the Lord wants, what the Lord wants from me, both in formation and afterwards?”. There is the bishop! The bishop is the one who on behalf of the Lord says: “This is the road”. You can go to the bishop and say, “I feel this”, and he will discern if it is that or not. But definitely, the one who gives the mission is the bishop. Why do I say this? One cannot live the priesthood without a mission. The bishop does not only give a task: “Take care of this parish”, like a bank manager hands out jobs to the workers. No. The bishop gives a mission. “Sanctify those people, bring Christ to those people”. It is another level. Therefore, dialogue with the bishop is important. This is where I want to arrive, at dialogue with the bishop.

The bishop must know you as you are: each person has their own personality, their own way of feeling, their own way of thinking, their own virtues, their own faults… The bishop is a father: he is the father who helps grown, the father who prepares for the mission. And the better the bishop knows the priest, the lesser the danger of making a mistake in the mission he will give. One cannot be a good priest without a filial dialogue with the bishop. This is non-negotiable, as some like to say. “No, I am worker of the Church”. That is mistaken. Here there is a bishop, not an assembly where a place is negotiated. There is a father who makes unity: in this way Jesus wanted things to be. A father who makes unity. It is beautiful when Paul writes to Titus, to Titus whom he left in Crete to “sort things out”. And he tells him the virtues of priests, of the bishop and of the laity, also of the deacons. But he leaves the bishop to arrange things: to arrange them in the Spirit, which is not the same as arranging them in an organizational chart. The Church is not an organizational chart. It is true that at times we use an organizational chart to be more functional, but the Church goes beyond the organization, it is another thing: it is life, life “arranged” in the Holy Spirit.

And who is in the place of the father? The bishop. He is not the owner of a business, the bishop, no. He is not the one who commands: “here I am in charge”, some obey, others pretend to obey and others do not do anything. No, the bishop is the father, he is fruitful, it is he who generates the mission. This word mission, which I wished to take, is loaded, it is loaded with the will of Jesus, it is loaded with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I urge you, from the Seminary learn to see in the bishop the father who is placed there to help you grow, to go ahead and to accompany you in the moments of your apostolate: in the beautiful moments, and in the ugly moments, but always to accompany you: in moments of success, in the moments of defeat you will always have in life, all of them… This is something very, very important.

Another thing, that of the vase of clay. I liked to take Jeremiah. He says: when the vase does not turn out well, the potter remakes it. While he is making the vase and there is something that does not work, there is time to redo and restart everything; but once it is fired… Please, let yourselves be formed. What the formators ask for are not whims. If you are not in agreement, speak about it. But be men, not children, men, courageous, and say it to the rector: “I do not agree with this, I don’t understand it”. This is important, to say what you feel. In this way one forms one’s personality, to be truly a vessel full of grace. But if you remain silent and do not engage in dialogue, if you do not say your difficulties, if you do not describe your apostolic anxieties and all that you want, a silent man, once he is “fired”, cannot be changed. And all life is like that. It is true that at times it is not pleasant when the potter intervenes in a decisive way, but it is for your own good. Let yourselves be formed, let yourselves be formed. Before firing, because that way you will be good.

And then, another two things. What is the spirituality of the diocesan clergy? As that priest used to say to the religious, “I have the spirituality of the religious congregation that Saint Peter founded”. The spirituality of the diocesan clergy, what is it? It is “diocesanity”. “Diocesanity” has three forms, three relationships. The first is the relationship with the bishop, but I have already spoken enough about that. The first relationship: one cannot be a good diocesan priest without the relationship with the bishop. Second: the relationship with the presbytery. Friendship between you. It is true that one cannot be close friends with everyone, because we are not equal, but good brothers yes, who care about each other. And what is the sign that in a presbytery there is brotherhood, there is fraternity? What is the sign? When there is no gossip. Gossip, the gossip is the plague of the presbytery. If you have something against him, say it to his face. Say it man to man. But do not talk behind his back: this is not what a man does. I am not saying it is not of a spiritual man, no, it is simply not of a man. When there is no gossip in a presbytery, when that door is closed, what happens? Well, there is a bit of noise, in meetings people say things directly, “I don’t agree!”, perhaps they raise their voices… but like brothers! At home, we brothers argue like that. But in truth. And then, caring for your brothers, wishing each other well. “Yes, Father, but you know, I don’t like that other one”. But there are also many I don’t like, and there will be someone who doesn’t like me, this is a natural thing in life, but the level of our consecration leads us to something else, to be harmonious, to be in harmony. This is a grace you must ask of the Holy Spirit. “Ipse harmonia est”, He is harmony. It seems a bit strange, the Holy Spirit, because with the charisms – because you are all different – He creates, let’s put it this way, disorder: everyone different. But then He has the power to make that disorder into a richer order, with many different charisms that do not annul the personality of each one. The Holy Spirit is He Who makes unity: the unity of the presbytery.

And then, two other things. What is the spirituality of the diocesan clergy? As the priest said to the religious: "I have the spirituality of the religious congregation that founded Saint Peter". The spirituality of the diocesan clergy, what is it? It is diocesanity. Diocesanity has three addresses, three relationships. The first is the relationship with the bishop, but I have already talked about it sufficiently. The first report: one can not be a good diocesan priest without the relationship with the bishop. Second: the relationship in the presbytery. Friendship among you. It is true that one can not be a close friend of everyone, because we are not equal, but good brothers, yes, that they love each other. And what is the sign that in a presbytery there is brotherhood, is there fraternity? What is the sign? When there is no talk. The chatter, the chatter is the plague of the presbytery. If you have something against him, say it in your face. Dilla from man to man. But do not speak badly: this is not for men! I do not say from a spiritual man, no, it's not just a man. When there is no chatter in a presbytery, when that door is closed, what happens? Well, there is a bit 'of noise, in the meetings you say things in the face, "I do not agree!", A little raises his voice ... But as brothers! At home, we brothers quarreled like that. But in the truth. And then, take care of the brothers, love each other. "Yes, Father, but you know, that other dislike me ...". But I too have many who dislike me and I dislike someone else, this is a natural thing of life, but the level of our consecration leads us to something else, to be harmonious, in harmony. This is a grace that you must ask the Holy Spirit. That phrase of St. Basil - which some say was not from St. Basil - in the Treatise on the Holy Spirit: "Ipse harmonia est", He is harmony. It seems a little strange, the Holy Spirit, because with the charisms - because all of you are different - he does, so to speak, like a disorder: all different. But then it has the power to make that disorder a richer order, with many different charisms that do not nullify each person's personality. The Holy Spirit is what makes unity: unity in the presbytery.

The relationship with the bishop, the relationship between you. Negative sign: gossip. No gossip. Positive sign: saying things clearly, discussing, even getting angry, but this is healthy, this is what men do. Gossip is for cowards.

The relationship with the bishop, the relationship between you, and the third: the relationship with the people of God. We are called by the Lord to serve the Lord in the people of God. Or rather, we are drawn from the people of God. This helps us greatly! The memory, that of Amos, when he says, “You are a prophet”. I am? Which prophet? I was drawn from behind the flock, I was a shepherd… Each one of us was drawn from the people of God, he was chosen and we must not forget where we come from. Because very often, when we forget this, we fall into the trap of clericalism and we forget the people we came from. Please, do not forget your mother, your father, your grandmother, your grandfather, the village, poverty, family difficulties: do not forget them! The Lord has taken you from there, from the people of God. Because with this, with this memory, you will know how to speak to the people of God, how to serve the people of God. The priest who comes from the people and does not forget that he was taken from the people, from the Christian community, at the service of the people. “But no, I have forgotten, now I feel a bit superior to everyone…”. Clericalism, my dears, it is our ugliest perversion. The Lord wants you to be shepherds, shepherds of the people, not state clerics.

This is the spirituality [of the diocesan priest]: the relationship with the bishop, the relationship between you and the contact, the relationship with the people of God in memory – where I come from – and in service – where I am going. And how can we make this grow? With spiritual life. You have a spiritual father: open your heart to the spiritual father. And he will teach you how to pray, prayer: how to love Our Lady… do not forget this, because she is always close to the vocation of each one of you. Conversation with the spiritual father. Who is not an inspector of your conscience, he is one who, on behalf of the bishop, helps you to grow. Spiritual life.

Thank you for the visit. I forgot to bring the booklet I wanted to give to you, but I will send it to the bishop, for each one of you. And pray for me, I will pray for you. Do not forget this: the spirituality of the diocesan clergy. Take courage!


Prepared Address of the Holy Father

Dear brothers,

I welcome you and thank you for this visit. I thank in particular your Rector, also for his words of introduction.

In the short time of our meeting I would like to give you some ideas for personal and community reflection, and I will take them from the recent Synod of young people.

First of all, the biblical icon: the Gospel of the disciples of Emmaus. I would like to restore this icon to you, because it has guided all the work of the last Synod and can continue to inspire your journey. And it is precisely journey that is the first key word: the Risen Jesus meets us on the journey, which at the same time is the path, that is, the reality in which each of us is called to live, and it is the inner path, the path of faith and hope, which knows moments of light and moments of darkness. Here, in the journey, the Lord meets us, listens to us and speaks to us.

First of all, He listens to us. This is the second key word: listen. Our God is Word, and at the same time He is the silence that listens. Jesus is the Word that has listened to us, the acceptance of our human condition. When He appears next to the two disciples, He walks with them listening to them, and even stimulating them to bring out what they have inside, their hope and their disappointment. This, in your life as a seminary, means that in the first place there is the dialogue with the Lord, which is constituted of mutual listening: He listens to me and I listen to Him. No fiction. No mask.

This listening to the heart in prayer educates us to be people able to listen to others, to become, God willing, priests who offer the service of listening – and how much we need it! – and it educates us increasingly to be a Church that listens, a community that knows how to listen. You now live this in particular in contact with the young, meeting them, listening to them, inviting them to express themselves ... But this applies to all pastoral life: like Jesus, the Church is sent into the world to listen to the cry of humanity, which is often a silent cry, sometimes repressed, suffocated.

I walk; I listen; the third word is discernment. The seminary is a place and time of discernment. And this requires accompaniment, as Jesus does with the two disciples and with all His disciples, especially the Twelve. He accompanies them patiently and with wisdom, and He educates them to follow Him in the truth, exposing the false expectations they carry in their hearts. With respect and decision, like a good friend and also a good doctor, who sometimes has to use the scalpel. Many problems that occur in the life of a priest are due to a lack of discernment during the seminary years. Not all and not always, but many. It is normal, and the same goes for marriage: certain things not addressed beforehand can become problems later. Jesus does not pretend with the two of Emmaus, He is not evasive, He does not circumvent the problem: He calls them “foolish and slow of heart” (Lk 24: 25) because they do not believe in the prophets. He opens their minds to the Scriptures, and then, at the table, He opens their eyes to His new Presence, in the sign of the broken bread.

The mystery of vocation and discernment is a masterpiece of the Holy Spirit, which requires the collaboration of the young man who is called, and of the adult who accompanies him.

We know that the fourth word is mission; and the Synod of Youth greatly valued the synodal dimension of mission: of going together to meet others. The two of Emmaus return together to Jerusalem and above all they join the apostolic community which, by the power of the Spirit, becomes entirely missionary. This emphasis is important, because the temptation to be good individual missionaries is always lurking. Already as seminarians one can fall prey to this temptation: feeling good because one is brilliant in preaching, or organizing events, or in beautiful ceremonies, and so on. Too often our approach has been individual, rather than collegial and fraternal. And so the presbytery and diocesan pastoral work may present splendid individuality but little testimony of communion, of collegiality. Thanks to God we are growing in this, also forced by the scarcity of clergy, but communion is not made by compulsion: we must believe in it and be docile to the Spirit.

Dear brothers, here are the ideas I leave you, all contained in the Gospel icon of the disciples of Emmaus: walking; listening; discerning; going together. I ask the Lord and the Virgin Mary to accompany you, I bless you and I pray for you. And please, remember to pray for me.

(Source: ​

by on November 2nd, 2018

Prayer of the Faithful to Promote the Call to Priesthood
November 2018 (Year B)

1st November: Solemnity of All Saints
For the holiness of all those discerning the call to love Jesus with undivided hearts by living the Beatitudes as priests or in the consecrated life …

4th November: Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
That those discerning the call to priesthood may live their lives according to the commandment of love and bring others closer to the Kingdom of God …

11th November: Thirty-Second in Ordinary Time
That those called to proclaim the Kingdom of God as priests will be generous in serving Christ by deepening their trust in God’s providence …

18th November: Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
That the Church will be continuously blessed with wise and holy priests, chosen by Christ to lead souls to the glory of Heaven …

25th November: Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
That Christ the King will draw all men and women to the truth of their vocations by listening to His voice in prayer and then actively following His call to the praise of His glory …

2nd December: First Sunday of Advent (Year C)
That all those now discerning their vocations will be alert and responsive to the invitation of Christ …

by on October 11th, 2018

​Prayer of the Faithful
to Promote the Call to Priesthood

October 2018 (Year B)

7th October: Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
That men and women will receive their unique vocations in Christ at the hands of our Heavenly Father, confident of His wisdom and providence in their response as His children …
14th October: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
That those discerning the call to leave all and follow Jesus more closely in the priesthood or consecrated life will respond with the wisdom and understanding given by the Holy Spirit …
19th October: Diocesan Day of Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood
That those chosen from the beginning by God to serve their brothers and sisters as priests may respond with generosity and freedom to that call…
21st October: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For reverent boldness on the part of the faithful as they approach the throne of grace in prayer, asking the Lord of the Harvest for holy vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life …
28th October: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For all men and women now considering their vocation, that they will take heart in Jesus’ call to serve Him as priests or in the consecrated life by our words of encouragement and prayers of support …
1st November: Solemnity of All Saints
For the holiness of all those discerning the call to love Jesus with undivided hearts by living the Beatitudes as priests or in the consecrated life …

by on September 16th, 2018

​During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive to live a consistent witness of morality.

“One cannot live a double morality: one for the people of God and another in their own home,” the pope told a group of priests, religious and seminarians in Palermo, Italy, Sept. 15.

“No, the witness is only one. The testimony of Jesus always belongs to him. And for his love [the priest] undertakes a daily battle against his vices and against all alienating worldliness.”

He referred to the room of Bl. Pino Puglisi, who was assassinated by the Mafia 25 years ago, saying it stands “in genuine simplicity. It is the eloquent sign of a life consecrated to the Lord, who does not seek consolations and glory from the world.”

People look for simplicity in priests and in consecrated men and women. He said: “People are shocked not when they see that the priest ‘slips,’ is a sinner, repents and goes on… People’s scandal is when they see worldly priests, with the spirit of the world.”

People are scandalized, he continued, when they see a priest who is like “an executive,” rather than a pastor. “And this puts it right in your head and in your heart: shepherds yes, executives no!”

In the meeting, the pope also discussed clericalism, stating that clericalism is to think the Church is “above the world,” when the Church is in fact “inside the world, to make it ferment, like leaven in the dough.”

“For this reason, dear brothers and sisters, every form of clericalism must be banned. It is one of the most difficult perversions to remove today, clericalism.”

He also warned against careerism, which he said is about power, and emphasized that priests and religious are meant to be people of service. To be a good witness, therefore, he said, “means fleeing every duplicity, that hypocrisy which is so closely linked to clericalism; to escape every duplicity of life, in the seminary, in religious life, in the priesthood.”

Francis was also critical of “pastoral projects,” which he said are often “pharaonic,” or extravagant, not simple. “We go to meet people,” he said, “with the simplicity of those who want to love them with Jesus in the heart… without riding the fashions of the moment.”

What have pastoral projects done? “Nothing!” he said. “Pastoral plans are necessary, but as a means, a means to help [those near us], preaching the Gospel, but in themselves they are not useful. The way of the encounter, of listening, of sharing is the way of the Church.”

He listed ways to grow the Church within the parish, such as helping young people at school, accompanying people as they discern vocations, meeting families and the sick, creating meeting places to pray and to learn. This is the “pastoral care” that brings fruit, he said.

Condemning gossip and division, saying they “are not sins that everyone does,” Francis added that “always the error must be distinguished from the one who commits it,” and people should be loved and treated as brothers and sisters. He pointed to the example of Don Pino, who welcomed everyone with an open heart, even criminals.

He also told priests that they are a man of God 24 hours a day, not only when wearing vestments, and that the liturgy is life for them, not just a ritual. “This is why it is fundamental to pray to the One we talk about, to nourish ourselves with the Word that we preach, to adore the Bread we consecrate, and do it every day,” he said.

“It demonstrates that the Church is a sacrament of salvation,” he said, “that is, a sign that indicates and an instrument that offers salvation to the world.”

Following his encounter with priests and religious at the cathedral, Pope Francis met with the young people of Palermo and the surrounding areas.

Asked a question about how to know God’s will for one’s life, he said it cannot be found by looking in a mirror or staying locked in one's room, but “in relationship.”

God speaks “in the journey and in relationship with others. Do not close yourselves, confide in Him, entrust everything to Him, seek Him in prayer, seek Him in dialogue with others, seek Him always on the move, look for Him on the way,” he said.

“This is important: Jesus believes in you more than you believe in yourselves. Jesus loves you more than you love yourself. Seek him out of yourself, on the way: He awaits you.”

Doing this, you will hear the Lord’s invitation, he said. “Pray with your words: with what comes from your heart. It is the most beautiful prayer.”

At the end of the meeting, noting the probable presence of non-Catholics in the crowd, the pope forwent giving his usual apostolic blessing, instead saying an off-the-cuff prayer for blessing on all those present. “May the Lord God accompany all these young people on the journey and bless everyone,” he prayed.

(Original image and article via ​

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