Sunday, January 22, 2006

“How can Bill Belichick help us increase vocations?”

(3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time-Year B. This weekend we were blessed to have Fr. Michael Najim, Assistant Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Providence, to speak with us about vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Below is a brief summary of his insightful and inspiring message.)

“How can Bill Belichick help us increase vocations?” That was the question Fr. Najim began with. Reflecting on a book he read recently on this phenomenal Patriots Head Coach, Fr. Najim described how Belichick is a man who has vision. He sees the moves that need to be made on the playing field. He sees the potential in players and coaches. He has football vision, and for that reason he has been able to lead the Pats to amazing success in the NFL.

“In the past few years, our Catholic vision of the priesthood has been blurred by scandal,” Fr. Najim explained. Many no longer recognize the priesthood for the gift and mystery that it is. He shared that the Holy Spirit is now inviting us to re-focus our Catholic vision, to see the priesthood once again as a gift and mystery.

Fr. Najim described how our beloved Pope John Paul II often reflected on the gift and mystery of the priesthood, especially as “the living and transparent image of Christ the Priest.” The Catholic priest makes Christ present through his ministry: celebrating the Sacraments, proclaiming the Word of God, and by the way he lives. Is this the way that we see the priesthood today?

“If we see the priesthood in this light,” said Fr. Najim, “then we will have a love and respect for the priesthood. We’ll also desire to see more men respond to the Lord’s call to priesthood. Together we are called to build a culture of vocations, but we can’t build this culture unless we have vision.”

In the Gospel for this week, Fr Najim pointed out, Jesus sees Simon and Andrew, He sees James and John. Then He calls them. What did He see? Christ saw their vocations, their potential, the reason He created them. When we see the gift of the priesthood, we also begin to see those who may be good priests. “Do you see?” Fr. Najim asked. He explained how we are the Body of Christ on earth. We are called to have the eyes of Christ, to see what Christ sees.

How are we to respond to such a vision? Fr. Najim challenged us to build a culture of vocations by focusing on the following:

1) Pray. We are called to pray for an increase in vocations, to pray for those who are being called, and for those who have already responded to that call. Prayer is essential.

2) Encourage. We need to offer the support and guidance necessary for those who are trying to answer the Lord’s call in their lives.

3) Identify. Who are the men God is calling to the priesthood? Are we able to see who might be a good priest? Jesus saw Simon and Andrew, James and John. Who do we see?

4) Invite. Many priests today were able to answer God’s call because people in their lives had the courage and care to invite them to discern a call to the priesthood. We need to reach out and ask the people we feel would make a good priest or religious.

Do you feel called to the priesthood or religious life? Do you know of someone God may be calling to this gift and mystery? Please pray for that person and consider asking them to answer that call as a Catholic priest or religious. For more information on the Catholic priesthood and the Diocesan Office of Vocations, check out the website at

May God continue to bless Fr. Najim in his vocations ministry, and may He bless our Diocese and our parish with many more vocations to the priesthood and religious life.