The High Cost of the Call to Priesthood Today

The high-cost of a call to priesthood today – a “Mission Impossible”? In the early 20th century, British explorer Ernest Shackleton needed to hire a crew for an upcoming 1914 – 1917 expedition to the South Pole. So he placed a newspaper ad that often appears in textbooks on advertising:

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in event of success.”

It is claimed that it worked and he found the men he needed for his mission. Some have hailed it as possibly the world’s greatest job ad.

Many people today might see these words as a description of the hazards of the call to the priesthood today. Neither “priesthood” nor the more generic “clergy” made into the U.S. News and World Report ranking the 100 Best Jobs of 2020. The sexual-abuse scandal dealt a considerable blow to the priesthood’s once-sterling reputation. A priest who shows up in a Hollywood movie these days is as likely as not to be the villain. And then there is the cost of not having a wife and family!

Might it be an ad for anyone considering priesthood today?

Yet four young men are answering that call today

St. Vincent invited the members of his “little company” to commit to personal transformation by learning the  five virtues of Simplicity, Meekness, Mortification, Humility, and Zeal for Souls. Today his invitation might be translated as calling for members of his community to five basic virtues and be

  • Honest (Simplicity)
  • Approachable (Meekness)
  • Self-disciplined (Mortification)
  • Realistic (Humility)
  • Hard-working (Zeal for souls)

Noe Garcia, Milton Lara, Wilber Mejia, and Jose Jose Alexander Palacios are answering that call in the context of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission. They have already spent years learning these basic virtues so crucial to being Good News

What is attracting them?

The same thing that attracted Vincent! Vincent soaked up the Gospel stories of Jesus’ life and ministry and grew in his understanding of his call. It meant leaving behind his old world-view of “What’s in it for me?” and committing to a world-view that was ever alert to “How can I bring the Good News that I experienced to all, especially the forgotten and marginalized?”

In a real sense, each of these men came from the margins, heard the good news in their own lives and are determined to be and bring good news to all who long for the experience being loved.

Pope Francis recently reminded all of us that we are called to be God’s storytellers (We are God’s story… and God’s story-tellers). We each have our own way of living and telling the “Good News” These four men are stepping forward to accept a call that is not popular in the eyes of many today. They are willing to transform their lives so that they help others.

For the next three weeks, all around the Eastern Province, we will be calling others in a special way to respond to the call of Jesus and Vincent.

Food for thought… and prayer

  • Do I pray that many will step forward to be God’s storytellers in whatever vocation they feel called to?
  • Do I know of young men who exemplify Vincent’s call to priesthood or brotherhood?
  • If I do, have I ever shared with them what I see in them?