New Deacons and Priests to Serve the Church
Ordinations to the Diaconate and to the Priesthood are always occasions of joy and celebration for everyone involved, especially for me, because they are signs of faith and vitality in the Diocese.
The numbers this year are quite impressive, as is the quality of candidates. On May 25, seven transitional deacons will be ordained at the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Lafayette. One member of the class who is attending North American College in Rome will be ordained there in October. They are called transitional deacons, because they plan to become priests in 2014. Among other things, deacons are allowed to preach at Mass and to baptize solemnly. Members of various parishes will observe them at work this summer. They will return to the seminary for another year before being ordained priests.
Six men will be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese on June 8 in the Cathedral. This is our largest class in years. Their presence will go a long way toward easing our priest shortage in the Diocese. Let us pray for them as well as for the new class of deacons.
Father Kevin Bordelon, Director of Vocations, informs me that ten men are in the process of applying to enter the seminary in August. Thus, our number of seminarians should remain around 40. While we are rejoicing in the six priests to be ordained this year, and the eight next year, we should also realize that we are projecting one ordination in 2015 and two in 2016.
At this time of year, I have been celebrating a large number of Confirmations. These, too, are happy occasions. From the faith perspective, our young people are very impressive. This is true in spite of the many challenges to faith and morals which bombard them constantly. At every Confirmation, I end my homily with a three-fold plea. I ask the students to consider and pray about a religious vocation for themselves. Many young people do think about this possibility. Also, I ask them and everyone to pray for an increase in religious vocations. Finally, I ask everyone to encourage those young people who may be interested in being a priest, a brother or a sister in the Church. It is a fact that most seminarians experience discouragement from other Catholics—parents, grandparents, or friends. Many friends and family members are encouraging, but some indeed are not. I encourage a culture of vocations in all of our families and parishes.
In fact, I believe that the Diocese of Lafayette has for many years been developing a strong culture of vocations, thanks in large part to priests who are actively encouraging young people. Neither can I overlook the significant number of lay people who do the same. Let us pray that the Lord may continue to bless our Diocese with religious vocations and in every other way.