In the past month I have visited several of our diocesan schools and I have had a great time getting to know the principals, staff and students at places like Cathedral School in Natchez, St. Aloysius in Vicksburg, Sr. Thea Bowman in Jackson, and St. Jospeh School in Greenville. I have fond memories of having priests as guests in the classroom when I was a Catholic School student, and I hope that my visits to our schools help give our children a firm grasp of what a call to the priesthood or religious life might “sound” like.
I tend to highlight two important facts at any school or parish that I visit. I think these two points are unknown to most, and so if my audience remembers nothing else, I hope they remember Father Nick’s “two points.”
Point number one, the desire to get married and have a family does not mean that a young person’s discernment is over. It is a part of our very biology that we desire to love someone else in this world as fully as possible, and the Lord has raised marriage to the level of a sacrament so that a man and a woman can share that love in a fruitful way. However, Jesus reveals in the Gospel that some men and women are called to forgo that natural calling and say yes to a supernatural gift that comes forth in a celibate life. Jesus goes so far to say “…let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:19) So point number one reminds young people (and older folks as well) that Jesus asks us to give Him the first say, and if you are asked to choose celibacy with generosity, God will bring forth abundant love in your life.
Point number two, speaking to a priest like me about a vocation does not mean I am going to sign you up to fill in for me at the parish next week! In fact, even going so far as enrolling in the seminary or a house of formation does not mean that you are locked in for life! The church provides years of formation to men and women so they they can fully discern whether they are being called or not. I will never push someone into a choice they have not come to freely, but I do hope that more and more young people will take advantage of the church’s resources that allow them to pray, study, and have the support of a community conducive to good discernment. A person who feels they may be called to priesthood or religious life and is considering entering formation should be prepared to offer the Lord two years. If you can commit to two years of joyful discernment, then you can rest assured that the Lord will use that time well, and again, you can always leave if you discern marriage is the call for you!
As I say often, I am so zealous about spreading the word regarding priestly formation because after my first two years in the seminary, I didn’t want to leave! Being supported by so many wonderful faculty members and leaders of the church, and being in a community of like minded individuals all striving for holiness and pushing one another in a healthy way was an amazing experience.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support of our six seminarians, all of whom are doing well. Please pray for many young men and women throughout the diocese who are pondering the Lord’s call.
– Father Nick Adam
Friday, October 9, 2020 – First annual Homegrown Harvest Gala and Fundraiser (virtual)
Visit https://one.bidpal.net/homegrownharvest2020 to support this event.