Thank you for sitting through hours of ugly-cry confessions by people like yours truly.
Thank you for the countless hours of migraines and tired eyes resulting from the studying of St. Thomas of Aquinas' Summa Theologica just so you could teach us about God and faith.
Thank you for always making openings in your schedule for people in dire need of help.
Thank you for sitting though extremely awful "come as you are" choir performances.
Thank you for accepting the sacrifices that come with accepting the vocation of "He must increase; I must decrease." (John 3:30)
Thank you for comforting parishioners in time of grief.
Thank you for accepting the heavy cross that comes with "in persona Christi."
Thank you for defending the faith in a world that would rather attack a priest rather than accept uncomfortable truths.
Thank you for leaving your loved ones to become a minister to strangers in different lands.
Thank you for continually defending life.
Thank you for giving up on biological fatherhood in order to become a father to all.
Thank you for changing my life and helping me during my faith journey.
Thank you for ministering to the poor, the sick, and downtrodden.
Thank you for bringing so many souls closer to God...even if it means having to stay up late writing homilies.
Thank you for helping so many people grow in my faith.
Thank you for selflessly giving up so much time for spiritual direction.
Thank you for continuing the work of Christ and his apostles...even in a world that hates you.
Thank you for accepting this hate with grace.
Thank you for accepting and standing up for immigrants, illegal or otherwise, who may not have a welcome home beyond the Church.
Thank you for inspiring people to find the transcendent in a greedy, self-centered world.
Thank you for learning new media in order to better engage the young and tech-savvy.
Thank you for fighting for us. I don't think many people truly appreciate the spiritual attacks you deal with as you strive for holiness.
Thank you for celebrating mass...it would literally be impossible without you and others like you.
We don't often thank the padres in our lives for the sacrifices they made and the hard work they put into saving souls....so I am taking the opportunity here to thank them and to encourage young men out there to take the plunge with regards to priesthood. I was very fortunate to have known so many wonderful priests throughout my faith formation. I have truly been blessed with some very great role models growing up and hope that I can one day pay it forward to all the great priests I've known.
My sister had the opportunity to sit beside a bunch of great seminarians during her time as a student of theology...and the stories she'd come back with were great. There were a lot of fine men in her theology classes and some of these fine men will one day be fine priests. It is hard for any young man to accept a call to priesthood and the world makes this journey even harder. It takes a lot of sacrifice, A LOT of studying, and A LOT OF COURAGE. Even if your family isn't behind you, seek God when He calls you. Pray, discern, visit the seminaries, seek answers to your questions, and "be not afraid."
I am of the belief that God knows what He's doing when it comes to increasing or decreasing vocations over the years. Better a few good priests than a plethora of false prophets leading sheep astray. With this said, I do believe St. JPII was right in announcing that this is "a new springtime in the Church." God is awakening hearts out there in this spiritually starved world...and He is calling for men to consider priesthood. He is calling for vocations. He is calling for more priests.
Father Barron (an AMAZING priest that has shaped my faith even though I've never had the opportunity to meet him) has created a powerful documentary "Heroic Priests" that I encourage all priests (and all potential priests) to check out. Please take a look!
Priesthood is an amazing vocation that gives you the ability to use your talents (whatever they may be) to bring souls to heaven. What better way to serve God than by helping Him with his plentiful harvest.