The vineyard grows
Beginning this fall, the diocese of Fort Worth will have 29 seminarians. Nine of these men will be coming into formation for the first time this year.
Over the past eight years our diocese has seen a consistent inflow of young men stepping up to the call to follow our Lord in discernment for the priesthood. This offers us three reasons for gratitude. First, it demonstrates the health and growth of our diocese. Second, it shows that the thousands of prayers in each parish for more vocations to the priesthood have been answered. Third, it is a sign of faith and hope for our diocese.
A sign of a healthy and growing diocese is people’s willingness to live out the Gospel sacrificially. Many men have stepped up to discern the call to priesthood and the diaconate in the last eight years, which shows that the Holy Spirit has been acting, and people have been responding. This is a testament to our pastors, to Bishop Michael Olson, and to the faithfulness of the people.
It is a sign of health when young men find pursuing priesthood not only a sacrificial endeavor, but one that is worthy of the sacrifice. This often means that the priests these young men see and interact with are men whom they believe they can imitate and work with. It is a testament to all of the hard work and faith in the priests in the Diocese of Fort Worth. It is an honor to work among their ranks. It is also a testament to our bishop’s continual emphasis on the importance of vocations, along with his care and support for our seminarians.
A second point of gratitude is to all of the faithful in our diocese who have been praying nonstop for vocations. The impact of these prayers on vocations should not be undervalued.
Jesus told us first and foremost that this is precisely what one should do for vocations: pray. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:37-38). Even when a diocese is following the Gospel imperatives faithfully, it is crucial to remember that it does not come through our efforts, but most especially through our petitions to the Lord of the Harvest for Him to send us faithful and loving laborers. Even the smallest prayers offered by those whom we may never know in this life have profound impact in the kingdom of God.
Both above realities should bring a sense of confidence to the people in the Diocese of Fort Worth. While many are often plagued with a sense of doom or dejection considering countless problems in the wider world, it is important to pay attention to one’s local reality to see how the Holy Spirit has been, and still is, working.
Growth in vocations not only helps our faith to grow but is a sign of the faith we already possess. It demonstrates healthy parishes, faithful parishioners, and that the people of God in our diocese do really believe in Jesus Christ and His Church. Even those who may think they only have little faith can be encouraged through the parable of the mustard seed. Even the smallest faith can bear fruit hundred-fold through the power of the Gospel.
Ultimately these realities offer us hope. Faith in Jesus Christ in our diocese is growing. The Holy Spirit is working, and we are responding. While our attention may fall at times on particular results that seem poor, it is important to realize that we often do not see the whole picture. God is in fact good; He loves us; and He is sending us more laborers for His vineyard.
It is our role to keep tilling this vineyard. May this soil be docile to the continual work of the Holy Spirit moving in the hearts of the youth in our diocese today.