Lenten Discernment Program assists those considering priesthood
FORT WORTH — Understanding and ultimately answering God’s call, especially a call to the priesthood, often raises questions. Time and deep discernment are required to ensure a proper decision is reached.
The Diocese of Fort Worth’s Lenten Discernment Program functions both to address the need for new priests and to offer encouragement and advice to those young men hearing God’s call.
The five-week program runs 6 p.m.-to-9 p.m. each Monday beginning Feb. 19 at St. Patrick Cathedral. Each session begins with Holy Hour at the Cathedral followed by discussion sessions in the annex.
The program generally focuses on young men in their teens and 20s, who may attend all five evenings or only some as their schedule allows.
Father Keith Hathaway of Notre Dame Catholic School in Wichita Falls, serves as one of the vocations liaisons involved with the program along with Fr. Nghia Nguyen of St. John the Apostle Parish in North Richland Hills, Fr. Manuel Holguin of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Fort Worth, and Fr. Matthew Tatyrek of Nolan High School.
Fr. Hathaway, who was ordained three years ago, said he looks forward to his first year of involvement with the discernment program.
“I think being a young priest myself is a benefit,” Fr. Hathaway said. “I remember when I was in high school thinking about the priesthood and my mental image of a priest at that time was one of an older man. So it was kind of eye opening to me later on to meet younger priests and seminarians and see the enthusiasm they had.”
Fr. Nguyen, who was ordained in 2016, is also participating in the Lenten Discernment Program for the first time though he did, while still a seminarian, speak to similar groups to share his experiences.
“I think it probably will help those who attend since, not that long ago, I was in their place,” Fr. Nguyen said. “I think we’ll be able to relate well to some of the questions and fears they’re probably going through and to offer encouragement and help guide them to the next stage of their formation.”
Fr. Nguyen encourages all young men who feel called to priesthood to attend the sessions.
In working with potential candidates, the liaisons look for Catholic men who first and foremost want to serve the Lord and lead a life of prayer and service, Fr. Hathaway and Fr. Nguyen said.
“We are looking for young men interested in the priesthood not in a vague way but those who have taken concrete steps to move forward,” Fr. Hathaway said. “And we’re looking for positive signs that the Lord is calling them and they’re responding to that call.”
Fr. Nguyen stressed that parishioners have a role to play as well.
“Just continue to pray for new priests and vocations for the Church and our diocese,” Fr. Nguyen said.
Fr. Hathaway agreed.
“It’s important that we all pray for priests and seminarians not in an abstract but in a very specific way,” Fr. Hathaway said. “That, if we know of a young man we think might be good for the priesthood, we pray for them by name and ask, ‘Christ, if it be your will.’”>
For information on the Lenten Discernment Program, call 817-945-9321 or email .