by Fr. George Rutler
In this month the Church prays for vocations. The past generation saw a drastic drop in vocations to the priesthood and Religious life. Now there seems to be resurgence, not in little measure encouraged by Pope Benedict’s example of classic theological and liturgical integrity.
St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers is welcoming a class larger than any in recent years, distinguished by the high quality of candidates. St. Paul’s Seminary in Minnesota has its largest enrollment since 1981. Saint Cloud’s is the largest in more than 40 years. In Maryland, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary has 163 seminarians.
Among Religious communities, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, a teaching order founded only in 1997 with four sisters, now has a community of 113. The Nashville Dominicans have admitted the largest number of postulants in 150 years. Among the orders for men, the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, which includes New York, this year accepted its largest novitiate class since 1966. Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, a member of that Province, has said: “Our tradition is constituted by a unique convergence of qualities: optimism about the rationality and fundamental goodness of the natural order; an abiding certitude that divine grace and mercy are sheer gifts, unmerited and otherwise unattainable; a healthy realism about the peril of the human condition apart from this grace and mercy; a determination to maintain a God’s- eye view of everything that exists and everything that happens; an appreciation of the inner intelligibility of everything that God has revealed about himself and us; a wholly admirable resistance to all purely moralistic accounts of the Catholic faith; . . . a zealous willingness to preach and teach about all this, in season and out, because we are convinced that the world is dying to hear it and dying from not hearing it.”
Everyone has a vocation by virtue of Baptism, be it in the lay state, clerical, consecrated Religious, married or single, young or old. The newly beatified John Henry Newman prayed:
God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his—if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.