Monday, February 19, 2007

The Gazette on vocations in Montreal.

The (Montreal) Gazette has a story today looking at the lives of some of the fifty or so men studying for the priesthood at the venerable Grand Séminaire de Montréal. Veteran Gazette religion reporter Alan Hustak writes on the diverse backgrounds of some of Montreal's second-career seminarians, including one Michael Leclerc:

He was a blackjack dealer in a casino, a bouncer in a Dawson City bar in the Yukon and a successful broker in charge of mutual-fund operations at Laurentian Bank Securities in Montreal. Then last week, Michael Leclerc took the first major step on his way to the Roman Catholic priesthood when he was accepted as a minister of acolyte [sic - should be "accepted for the ministry of acolyte"] at a service in the chapel of Montreal's Grand Seminary.

Leclerc, 36, is one of about 50 candidates studying for the priesthood at the seminary, a vast, sepulchral building hidden behind stone walls on Sherbrooke St. W.

. . .

Leclerc admits his route to the ministry was a circuitous one. "I would go to church on Sunday, but my religion had little effect on what I did the rest of the week," he said. "But my job as a financial analyst consumed me - I found it taking over who I was. The whole idea of shifting numbers from one column to another and worrying about decimal points started to seem empty."

To deal with the stress, Leclerc often found himself dropping into St. Patrick's Basilica on Rene Levesque Blvd. W. "My mind started focusing on the notion that maybe I should do something more with my life," he said. "Slowly I came to the conclusion I shouldn't be working with finances, that I should invest in something else - maybe along the lines of becoming a priest."

Although the numer of seminarians has been shrinking, it seems to have levelled off. Each year, about 15 candidates like Leclerc enter the seminary, according to a recently appointed auxiliary bishop of Montreal, Lionel Gendron, who was rector 20 years ago and recently returned to the job.

As Hustak notes, the number of men ordained each year for the Montreal Archdiocese - usually about four or five - is significantly lower than the number of priests who retire or pass away each year. Though every vocation is a gift of the Holy Spirit, there's a great deal that each of us can do to help others hear and respond to God's call in their lives. Though it's difficult to quantify the results of individual news articles, positive media attention can only help to raise awareness about vocations. I hope this will be the case with today's Gazette article and others like it. AMDG.


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