The annual mass and evening of prayer for vocations for the English region of the Archdiocese of Montreal drew about 200 to the chapel of Grand Seminary, Feb. 11. Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Mancini celebrated the mass and gave one seminarian the Rite of Admission.
“We do not have many who are ready and willing to say to the Lord: ‘Send me’,” said Bishop Mancini in his homily. “And there are all kinds of reasons for that. Maybe because the life we are asked to undertake is hard. Maybe because it does not bring much in the way of affirmation and public support.
“Being a priest is often viewed as being meaningless,” continued the vicar-general. “For those of us gathered here tonight in this chapel, this willingness [of our seminarian] to follow the Lord is a grace that we receive.
“We know that ministry in this world can only be done by persons who have great conviction and great hope,” he said. “We pray, and we must pray, if we want individual hearts to be open to the will of God to answer the community’s need, I dare say cry, to be served.”
“In every age, there have been obstacles to overcome. Our age is no different,” he said, referring to the low number of vocations in the archdiocese. Currently, there are 19 seminarians at the Grand Seminary. Only three are in formation for the English-language Catholic community of Montreal, which numbers about 250,000. The entire archdiocese ministers to about 1.2 million Catholics.
“We pray for freedom to leave ourselves behind … and for trust that the spirit of God is with as as we try to live the Gospel and build up the body of Christ. May the Lord bless our Church with more people willing to say: ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me.’”
The bishop then gave third-year seminarian Francesco Giordano the Rite of Admission. “The priesthood is a call to a deep life,” said the 31-year-old. “I consider it [the rite] an engagement to the Lord and a first step toward the priesthood.” Giordano’s ordination is another four years away. There are no other men set to be ordained to the priesthood for the English region of Montreal until then.
“I decided to join in to pray for vocations because we are desperate for priests,” said Mary Ann Mitchell, a Mic Mac Native Indian and parishioner of St. Patrick’s Basilica. “I pray for vocations all the time,” she said.
“The number of vocations has dropped quite a lot and some parishes are sharing priests now,” noted Daria Kalawski, a parishioner of Holy Name of Jesus.
Cecilia Lopera said she has been attending monthly prayer evenings for vocations at the seminary for the last two years. “In this society in which we live now, we need more young people in service to the community and the Church,” said the 52-year-old native Colombian and mother of two.