My last homily at St. Edward parish in Bowie was for the monthly Filipino Mass. I first spoke of my history with the Filipino community building at the parish, but then I gave a homily on meekness. The homily part is about 12 minutes. It is a video included here. I thank Steve Duhig for taping it for me and making it available.
Here I am standing in the Church of Resurrection, over in Burtonsville. I am transferred from St. Edwards to this parish, as appointed by Archbishop Wuerl on Friday. Here are some photos in the church.
It was quiet in here tonight. I did meet some women in a prayer group in the vestibule room afterwards, and they prayed over me, upon my bidding. A couple of them already knew me, which was nice to experience. I don’t know who I know here at Resurrection, but it’s probably only a small number. Yet I came in to meet the Lord of the House, whom we all know: Jesus. I met Him in the Blessed Sacrament. I looked over at the honored spot for Blessed Mary, and I looked upon the altar where I will likely pray hundreds, if not thousands of liturgies, and hopefully very many personal prayers in the pew.
I was traveling with a Cardinal to a parish, one that was to get a new pastor, as their one was leaving in a few months. The process of filling the pastorate was not begun yet, but because the Cardinal was visiting, the people asked him the obvious question: “What kind of priest will we get as our new one?”
I heard him say: “We haven’t started looking yet, but I can tell you that you will get him from the lot which you have supplied me in this Archdiocese. I give to you of the priests that you give to me… Who are you giving to me, or who have you given to me?” The people thought about it, and said: “Sadly, we haven’t given the diocese a priest vocation yet, nor do we have one in the seminary.” “Ah,” his Eminence replied, “…gladly some of the other parishes and families in the diocese have given me some priests, so I will choose from among them. You will get from what another parish has supplied me in a priest vocation.”
I think his point was that vocations come from our parishes, and that is mostly where we find our next priests. A future hoped-for pastor is a person that may be in our parish right now, who could use some encouragement to look into the calling.
Cardinal McCarrick was that person, and he had a nice positive way of asking parishes about how they are promoting priestly vocations, and he made it to many of his 140 parishes in that time he shepherded Washington. The numbers went up in his time.
Sometimes people complain with who they get for their new priest or pastor. As in: “We don’t like this one.” Yet I do wonder with them if they have actively helped get men into the priesthood, and supported the priestly ministry of Washington overall. When one parish complained of getting an Asian-American priest to their parish (and wanted a white, Caucasian, preferably born in Southern Md., I said to a few of them (and thought it privately among others): “This county has had very few vocations to Washington, so the pool of what you want is not much there. Why not help vocations thrive in this area? But MOST of all, why not accept the vocations God is providing to you? This Asian-American is a great representative of an predominantly Asian Catholic community in the Metro area, and you should be pleased to have him come serve among you. You are getting a great priest here. ‘Better give him a chance, because the Holy Spirit sent him here to you.”
People are sometimes oddly funny in the way they react to a new priest/pastor. One parish group complained that their new pastor prayed too much beforehand (prior to Mass), interfering with their long-established casual, talking atmosphere before Mass, right up to the opening song. Now he was ‘ruining it’ in his pre- Mass meditations, kneeling in the front pew. They knew little about this new pastor, but felt free to immediately gripe. Wow. I felt like saying: Why not rejoice in a praying priest new among you? And visit and talk after Mass to each other? I felt like chastising them for their insulting and ungracious behavior.
Where does a bishop get his priest vocations? Mostly from the families and parishes in his diocese. Yet the numbers of men going into seminary are still lacking. Why? It may be so because that many in the Church are so removed from care and support of our vocations to priesthood. I would encourage you here at St. Edward to be active in vocations support. Chris Garner remains our vocations liaison, and it is neat, because he is now a new permanent deacon candidate for our Archdiocese.
In our own parish here, we had just one enter our DC priests recruitment for seminary, in all my decade here. He’s the first since our parish started in 1972. While he did not go on to Holy Orders, I am most proud of him for being open to the call.
In our parish, we have another family with a vocation to the priesthood, into the Pre-Catechumenate Way. He is Jason Mantich. He is studying for Newark Archdiocese.
Another family who moved in here have a son in seminary for the Ft. Wayne diocese. His name is Bonaventure Gbabba.
Yet, as of now, we’ve not had a first Mass of a young man raised here at St. Edward. I hope someday in our future there will be.
I have hope, because I came from a neighborhood corridor (from Kenhill Drive/Tasker MS over to a couple blocks past Kenilworth school towards Belair Drive) which has produced a bunch of DC priest vocations. We all came from St. Pius X parish. In my neighborhood within a few blocks of my Kittery lane address, the following vocations did come: (me), Fr. Richard Welch, Most. Rev. Barry Knestout, Fr. Mark Knestout, Fr. Tom Woods, Fr. Tim Breslin, and Fr. Dave Wells.
The other side of Bowie has also produced a good number of priests from Sacred Heart parish.
We’ve got to get South Bowie and Mitchellville/Upper Marlboro going with a wave, too.
The Cardinal was right: he gives priests from among the group that the ADW gives him. We have good young men coming out of this parish for the past four-and-a-half decades, with more good ones currently— so we are due for a breakout.