“The priesthood is a tremendous call from God,” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., said to the gathering of young men who are discerning a call to the priesthood.
UPDATED: Discernment gathering allows attendees to explore ‘great gift’ of the priesthood
“In my 42 years as a priest, I’ve experienced many, many more joys than sorrows,” the Bishop said. “The priesthood is a great gift.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Vocation Discernment Gathering
Bishop O’Connell shared some thoughts about his own experience of priesthood during a June 29 vocation discernment gathering where 15 young men between the ages of 14-40 had an opportunity to ask questions and obtain information on all that is involved in preparing to be a priest. The early evening event hosted by the diocesan Office of Vocations began with Bishop O’Connell celebrating a Mass in St. John the Baptist Church, Allentown, and was followed by a BBQ on the parish grounds. About eight priests concelebrated the Mass with the Bishop and a number of them attended with men from their parish that they accompanied. Also at the event were a number of seminarians from the Diocese.
In his homily, Bishop O’Connell called it a “great coincidence” that the Mass for men who are thinking about the priesthood was celebrated on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
“Every one of us is called by God to do something important in our lives,” Bishop O’Connell said. “For some, that call from God may be clearer than for others at this moment. But do not doubt, not even for a minute, that God has a plan for you. Like Peter and Paul, ordinary men with different strengths and weaknesses, we are asked simply to be open to God’s call, to listen and to learn.
“It will come to you in prayer, in service, in the example or words of another. It may come in moments of silence, in discernment. It may come in days like the one we are sharing,” said Bishop O’Connell.
Another highlight of the evening was Bishop O’Connell formally introducing Father Christopher Colavito as the new diocesan director of vocations. Father Colavito succeeds Father Jason Parzynski, who served as the director for the past four years. Father Parzynski is beginning a new assignment as administrator of St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction, along with continuing in his role as chaplain of Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville.
Both Father Parzynski and Father Colavito emphasized that the main goal of the discernment gathering was to give the inquirers a chance to meet priests and seminarians from the Diocese and hear stories on how they arrived at their own decision to become a priest. Equally important, both Father Parzynski and Father Colavito said, is letting “the guys know they are not alone” in their thoughts and questions about being a priest.
“This is a great opportunity for them to get answers,” Father Colavito said, noting that he is looking forward to his new position as director of vocations. He also mentioned the newly created vocations slogan, “Trenton Makes Priests,” which was derived from the “Trenton Makes The World Takes” slogan found on the Lower Trenton Bridge which spans across the Delaware River from Morrisville, Pa., to Trenton.
Father Parzynski noted that it was the fifth year that the Vocations Office hosted the Discernment Mass and BBQ and its aim has been “to provide young men an opportunity to meet others open to discernment as well as talk with our seminarians about what it’s like to enter into formal discernment in the seminary.
“I personally always found the annual BBQ to be inspiring since it brings a sense of joy to those in attendance,” he said. “We can clearly see by those in seminary and open to discernment that Christ has not abandoned his Church and is still very much so actively calling men to the sacramental priesthood."
Harry Kingsmill of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, thought about being a priest for two years before arriving to his decision to pursue seminary studies in St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., where he will enter this fall.
“It’s great to be here to talk with others who are or have been in my shoes,” and knowing there are others “like me who are dealing with questions about the harsh truths, struggles and realities of discernment,” Kingsmill said. Attending a gathering “like this brings joy to my heart to be able to share with others about the beauty of a vocation.”