June 1, 2013
Over the course of the last year and a half many good people from around our diocese, both Catholics and non-Catholics, have asked me how I like North Dakota and the Diocese of Bismarck. I am always happy to answer these questions, both of them, with a resounding, “I love them both.”
For me, being the bishop of Bismarck has been and continues to be a spiritually enriching experience for so many reasons, but over these months my association with the priests and deacons of our diocese has been especially wonderful and edifying. They are good and holy men dedicated to our Church and truly in love with Jesus Christ and His people.
However, I must admit that there is one thing I do as the bishop of Bismarck and for just a little while longer as apostolic administrator of Fargo that is the highest privilege and responsibility for me: it is calling men to sacred ordination to the priesthood and diaconate and then celebrating the sacrament of holy orders for them and for the whole Church.
In the course of this month of June I will be privileged to ordain two men to the sacred priesthood for the Diocese of Fargo on June 7, 2013, and then six men for the service of the Church for the Diocese of Bismarck on June 13, 2013. How good God is to us! Eight new priests to serve the Catholic Church across the state of North Dakota is a marvelous blessing but I like to look at it as a reminder to all of us from God that we are to pray constantly to Him for more vocations to the priesthood, as well as to the consecrated life for women.
I would like to ask everyone, especially you who are so blessed by God to be parents, to encourage your sons and daughters to consider if God may be calling them to be His priests and religious sisters for our future. The Church has always reminded parents that this is one of their responsibilities. At this time of the year when I make the assignments for our priests and parishes, I want to remind all parishes to pray for vocations. As parishes, ask yourselves if you have any young men or women whom you have encouraged to consider the priesthood and religious life.
Often enough, I receive letters of complaint from a few parishioners in a few parishes that they would prefer a different priest than the one who is their pastor. I respond to most of these letters as best as I am able and I include the question as to whether or not they have ever had a priest from the parish or have they been praying for more vocations to the priesthood. None of us can forget that it is God who offers vocations but He has left it up to us to pray to Him for more vocations.
With so much as a diocese to be grateful to God for, in this month of June which is the month of the most sacred heart of Jesus and the immaculate heart of the Blessed Virgin May, let us devote ourselves to praying for vocations among our young men and women and helping them know God’s will for them in the Church.