Saturday, April 26, 2008

Papal visit buoys seminary, while aspiring seminarian seeks a helping hand.

According to yesterday's New York Daily News, the Archdiocese of New York is facing a "tsunami of interest" in the priesthood following last week's papal visit. Before Pope Benedict XVI came to the United States, officials at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers expected to have no new students in the coming academic year - something that hasn't happened in over a century. However, the combined effect of Pope Benedict's exhortation to young people and the publicity surrounding his visit seems to have offered a ray of hope to the seminary. Since the papal visit, archdiocesan vocation director Father Luke Sweeney claims to heard from "dozens" of young men who are interested in the priesthood. While it's too soon to tell how many of these men will actually enter the seminary, I'm glad to hear of the groundswell of interest and I hope it's a sign of greater things to come.

The road to the seminary can be a difficult and winding one, and men who aspire to become priests often face numerous challenges along the way. Some of these challenges are spiritual, as one seeks through prayer and experience to discern God's call. Other challenges are more mundane, like paying off one's student loans. Such is the challenge facing Neven Pesa, an aspiring Melkite Greek-Catholic seminarian who has been accepted to enter the novitiate of the Basilian Salvatorian Order but first has to pay off considerable student loan debt from college. A singer and songwriter, Neven has recorded a CD of religious music, which he's advertising on the web and through various Catholic parishes; all proceeds from the sale of the CD will go toward paying off Neven's student loan debts so he can enter the novitiate. I'm happy to commend Neven Pesa for taking a creative approach to a common difficulty facing aspiring seminarians, and I wish him well in his endeavors. If you think you might like to lend him a hand, take a look at his website. While you're at it, say a prayer for all who are discerning vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and pray that more might answer the call. AMDG.


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