BRIDGEPORT—In the din of everyday life and a world that is often chaotic, many young men may not hear the call to priesthood, and they often lack the encouragement they need to discern a vocation, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said on Good Shepherd Sunday.
In his online Mass from the Catholic Center, the bishop said “there are men in our midst whom the Lord is calling to the sacred priesthood,” but they may struggle to move forward without our support.
”We are in need of good holy priests to continue to guide us as shepherds. On this Good Shepherd Sunday, the Church asks us to pray for vocations and for our priests that they may be worthy shepherds following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd. I ask you to pray that they may be faithful to the end, and I ask you to pray for me.”
In his homily for the fourth Sunday of Easter, Bishop Caggiano reflected on the Gospel of John (10 11-18 ) 14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me.”
The bishop said that of all the titles the lord ascribed to himself, the most endearing and beautiful is that of the Good Shepherd.
In the agrarian world in which Jesus lived, the relationship between shepherd and sheep would have been well understood by the people and would have resonated with them in a powerful way, he said.
“The sheep are guided by the Shepherd who leads them forward in security and love,“ he said. The sheep know the shepherds voice as one that protected them from danger and thieves.
“You and I are the sheep in the preaching of the word. Today we hear His voice,” the bishop said.
“We trust him and understand that He comes to feed us as the Good Shepherd so that we may be sustained as we face the challenges of life.”
Bishop Caggiano said that we are all called to holiness and to share in a basic priesthood through baptism, but certain men are called to a special ministry to “follow in the footsteps of Jesus and to preach courageously.”
The bishop said it was in the upper room on the night before he died that Jesus gave this unique ministry to his apostles.
The role of the priest is to help us turn our lives to the Good Shepherd and to make the grace and sanctity of the Lord present in our midst through the breaking of the bread and sharing of the wine.
The authority of a priest is based on a life of sacrifice and “comes from love—from laying down their lives and emptying themselves for other people,” he said.
The bishop said that after the attacks on the World Trade Center twenty years ago, there was a sign in every subway station that said, “If you see something, say something.”
Likewise, we should be on the lookout for the many men of all ages vocalizing or discerning the priesthood, and be prepared to identify, encourage and support those who are drawn to a vocation.
“In this case I have no doubt the Lord is calling many young men to priesthood,” the bishop. “If we see that, let us pray that they may find their own true path and we may have the priests we need to allow the Church’s mission to be renewed outside of the pandemic.”
Good Shepherd Sunday reminds us the Church needs priests to “preach the mission of Jesus and his Church all over the world so that ‘I am the Good Shepherd, I will lay down my life for you’ may be the words spoken on the lips of every priest.”
Before giving the final blessing the bishop personally asked all to pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life.
He also announced that Pope Francis has asked Catholic throughout the world to pray for the end of the pandemic and to offer a Rosary throughout the month of May. He encouraged all to join in the weekly diocesan rosary and said the diocese will continue to add its prayer to the global prayer for the end of suffering from the pandemic.
All are invited to join Bishop Caggiano for the Sunday Family Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 pm visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/