Tuesday, October 17, 2023

It’s Time to Ask the Master of the Harvest

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the new Vocations Director for the Hartford Archdiocese, Fr. Anthony Federico. I noted that he is a fellow baseball nut, so as a Catholic priest and a baseball fan, he is a man after my own heart. (And I say that without even knowing whether he’s a Yankees fan!)

Soon after Fr. Anthony gave the homily at the Archdiocese’s “Faith and Family Night” Mass at Dunkin Park in Hartford, I saw him again at the Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference. The theme of the conference was “The Priesthood: God’s Gift and Our Responsibility.” Fr. Anthony gave a brief talk, and the first thing he said was, “I don’t want your money.” Then he added with a smile, “When’s the last time you heard a priest say that?”
What Fr. Anthony wanted from the conference attendees was much more valuable than money. He wanted them to become prayer warriors who will pray and fast regularly for priestly vocations. You see, Fr. Anthony has a modest goal for the Archdiocese: he wants 1,000 new priests here.

Now, some folks might roll their eyes and mutter, “We’re lucky to get 10 new priests, let alone a thousand!” (Full disclosure: that’s exactly what I did and said when Fr. Anthony made his announcement.)

But then the energetic priest started to explain what gave him this idea. “Jesus tells us how to get the priests the Church needs,” he began. Then he quoted Our Lord from Matthew’s gospel: “‘Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for His harvest.’ The priests we need are out there. God has not stopped calling. We have to ask.”

Fr. Anthony continued, “Our God is so lavish and excessive in His kindness. Asking for a thousand new priests is more befitting His grandeur and generosity. We have to be bold. Let’s have confidence in the power of the Living God.”

Anyone who wants to help Fr. Anthony meet this audacious goal can sign up to be a prayer warrior at the Vocations website: www.hartfordpriest.com .
There are no fees, dues, or meetings to attend – just a pledge to do two things:
  1. Pray for priestly vocation every day.

  2. Select a day of the week to attend Eucharistic adoration, if possible; pray the Rosary; and fast with the intention of asking the Lord to send new, holy, zealous priests for the Archdiocese.
Another interesting comment was made at the Men’s Conference by one of the keynote speakers, Fr. Larry Richards. He said that during his 34 years of being a priest, 19 of his friends have left the priesthood. Then he explained that not a single one of these men left because of a scandal. All of them left the priesthood because of loneliness, which was exacerbated by an absence of support and encouragement from the parishioners.

So, those of us in the laity have a lot of work to do. We have to pray and fast fervently that the “master of the harvest” will send the Archdiocese an overwhelming number of new priests. At the same time, we have to be much more supportive and encouraging toward the priests we already have.

Nowadays, people often say, “Thank you for your service” to members of the military – and rightfully so. Well, it’s time we started saying the same thing to our priests. After all, these guys sacrifice a great deal to serve others.
As numerous speakers at the Conference pointed out: “No priests, no Eucharist. No priests, no forgiveness” (meaning no sacrament of Confession).

The Lord Himself instituted the priesthood and the sacraments as His way of bringing supernatural grace to the whole world. It’s time for a revival in our Church. Let’s all do our part to make this happen. Let’s sign up to be prayer warriors on Fr. Anthony’s website. And let’s tell our priests, “Thank you for your service.” 

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