Monday, August 14, 2017

The support of friends

     One thing about my new residence at Neumann House at the Bishop Connare Center in our diocese is that we priests who are retired from active pastoral ministry are at the heart of many activities held by the Diocese of Greensburg.   One of those occurred Sunday evening when our bishop, at the invitation of the Office of Vocations and the Catholic Foundation, met with laity and priests who have shown their support of our vocation efforts through prayer and substantial giving.   Approximately one hundred and forty people gathered for Evening Prayer in the Saint Joseph Chapel, followed by refreshments and a fine dinner.  During that time, they were introduced to our four seminarians present, thanked for their generosity and encouraged by Bishop Malesic and those running the program to be as supportive as possible in these crucial efforts.  An insightful talk on the vision of priesthood of Pope Francis was given by Benedictine Father Edward Mazich, the rector of Saint Vincent Seminary, and a newly produced video from the Vocation Office was previewed. It was an encouraging evening for all of those in attendance.  This event, called the "Friends of Seminarians Dinner" is an annual event.

 The reception outside the Chapel
 Bishop Malesic addressing those in attendance
 The new Vocation Video
Benedictine Father Edward Mazich, keynote speaker

     As I sat in the Saint Joseph Chapel and prayed with these good and supportive people, I reflected upon the sacrifices made throughout the years by those who have been friends, to seminarians and priests, and who have made my priesthood possible.  The support and encouragement that I received in my formative years, by family and friends, by the Diocese and the local Serra groups, and the countless prayers of untold people throughout the twelve years of seminary and the forty-four of priesthood are an outstanding testimony of faith and action.  The very chapel we prayed in, and the facility we gathered at, are examples of that sacrifice and support.  Many of the men that have gone through the seminary programs have become priests and deacons, and an even greater number have become good, solid Catholic men of family and faith, involved in the Church and committed to the Good News of the Gospel.

     When I began this journey fifty-six years ago this Fall, we had twenty-one in our class of High School Freshmen.  I remember Bishop Connare telling us that if we get one ordination from this group, we will be fortunate.   From that group we saw two men ordained priests, with one leaving active ministry after a number of years and now one retired, and two men ordained later in life to the Permanent Diaconate, one of whom is now retired.  Not bad, four out of the twenty-one.  But the good news is the great lives of faith lived by so many of the others and the service to the Church that they have brought and continue to bring to the Church's mission.  As a side note: one of those men stopped to see me just this afternoon.  Rick Pedzwater, originally from New Ken and a classmate from the old Saint Joseph Hall days, stopped by with his grandson on their way to Steeler Camp at Saint Vincent for the day.  Rick lives in the Eastern part of the Commonwealth, and his grandson is from York, Pennsylvania.  It was a delightful surprise, and it was great seeing Rick again.

     Those Friends of Seminarians of the past and the present have laid the foundation and set the stage, and the Friends of Seminarians of the future are as vitally important as ever.  Be one of those good people through your prayers, encouragement and support of our seminarians and deacons and priests.  We need you.

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