Father Daniel Swift, pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, and an assistant director of vocations for the Diocese, top row, center, is pictured with eighth-grade boys of the parish school during the "Priests for a Day" activity held during Catholic Schools Week. Photo courtesy of Father Daniel Swift
Father Daniel Swift, pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, and an assistant director of vocations for the Diocese, top row, center, is pictured with eighth-grade boys of the parish school during the "Priests for a Day" activity held during Catholic Schools Week. Photo courtesy of Father Daniel Swift

By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor

When it comes to the vocation of priesthood, Father Daniel Swift doesn’t just plant ideas in the minds and hearts of young men, he gives them practical experiences from which they can learn.

One idea Father Swift, an assistant director of vocations for the Diocese and pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, has introduced for eighth-grade boys is “Priests for a Day” – a program in which he provides boys with “clerics,” the black shirts priests wear and white collars. He then asks the boys to wear the clerics one day to school.

Father Swift said he came up with the idea for the boys of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, when he was pastor of St. Benedict Parish. It’s an idea he brought to Medford for the eighth-grade boys of St. Mary of the Lakes School.

Noting that he decided to hold “Priests for a Day” this year during Catholic Schools Week, Father Swift said that on the day he gave the boys their shirts and collars, he told them to “put them in their book bags without saying a word to anyone” and to put the clerics on the next morning when they were getting ready for school.

Father Swift said it was interesting and humorous to hear the boys share how their families reacted after seeing them in the clerics.

“They thought it was pretty cool,” Father Swift said of how the boys responded to what it was like to dress like a priest. 

In addition to “Priests for a Day,” Father Swift said other recent ways he has promoted vocations to the priesthood included hosting an afternoon to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., where boys had an opportunity to see a seminary and meet men who are studying to become priests. On April 30, he is planning to host a diocesan-wide afternoon at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary as well.