“When in December 1944 I was drafted for military service, the company commander asked each of us what we planned to do in the future. I answered that I wanted to become a Catholic priest. The lieutenant replied: “Then you ought to look for something else. In the new Germany priests are no longer needed”.
I knew that this “new Germany” was already coming to an end, and that, after the enormous devastation that madness had brought upon the country, priests would be needed more than ever.
Today the situation is completely changed. In different ways, though, many people nowadays also think that the Catholic priesthood is not a “job” for the future, but one that belongs more to the past. You, dear friends, have decided to enter the seminary and to prepare for priestly ministry in the Catholic Church in spite of such opinions and objections. You have done a good thing. Because people will always have need of God…
Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough… God is alive. He has created every one of us and he knows us all. He is so great that he has time for the little things in our lives: “Every hair of your head is numbered”.
God is alive, and he needs people to serve him and bring him to others. It does makes sense to become a priest: the world needs priests, pastors, today, tomorrow and always, until the end of time.”
These inspired words coming from Pope Benedict XVI throw light on the vocation and life of seminarians – these young people whom God has chosen and are now preparing themselves for the priesthood. It is a gift that here in Guam we have three centers of formation – the Redemptoris Mater and the Capuchin Friars in Yona and one seminarian in formation in California.
Each seminarian comes with a story. A story made of dreams, disillusionment, struggles and joys. This young adult was sixteen and he wanted to be a medical doctor. Then a priest approached him and asked him to join the Carmelites. He was taken aback. He never thought of becoming a priest. But deep down inside him, something stirred. He went to his mother and told her of his decision. This good mother was thrilled but she did not show her emotion. She just told him “Go and tell your father.”
The boy was hesitant. But at the insistence of the mother, he did go. His father looked at him squarely and just told him, “Son we shall be very happy if you become a priest but know, that the door to this house is always open for you. If for some reason you decide this is not your vocation, just come back.”
That was in 1964. This young man never went back home. He joined the Carmelites and did his seminary days in Malta, England, Italy and Belgium. His days of formation were beautiful and tough at the same time. Molding someone to be a priest is a daunting task! But God relishes in these kind of undertakings! He was only 24 when he became a priest.
This is just one story. God has been amazingly good and wonderfully faithful. If only many other young adults realize the beauty of this vocation…
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.