So you thought my assignment would be right here, eh?
First I want to give you some context – don’t worry you’ll find out soon enough…
“You have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,” Hebrews 12:22-23
Those words describe the beautiful reality of what takes place every time we go to Mass. We got to hear them yesterday in the first reading. And it was in that context, in the city of the living God, with countless angels present, that I had the opportunity to reveal where the next several years of life will take me.
It was at the end of Mass among our seminary community that I, along with six of my brothers, announced where we would be headed for our theology studies. I received the letter earlier that day, but this was the first time anyone else knew where that would be. It was also in that context that I donned for the first time the clerical collar. I can tell you that those moments were filled with a powerful joy, as was our celebratory dinner afterwards.
There’s certainly a lot of trust involved in this great event. Trust in God, trust in the bishop, and certainly trust in myself as well. I knew well before I received that letter that whatever would be on that page is indeed what God’s will is for me at this point in my life. And there’s a freedom in that. The bishop assigns me to my next step, and I simply obey. What a wonderful gift it is!
“So, get on with it, where are you going to be next year?”
I thought you’d never ask – find below the letter written to me by Bishop Zubik, which contains my assignment.
Priestly formation is of the utmost importance in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Saint Paul Seminary, an institution which has served this local Church for more than fifty years, is where those discerning the Lord’s call come to listen to Him more attentively. It is the task of the seminary to be the space where the Lord makes ever more manifest His call.
You have participated in the formation program for almost two years with a passion and love for the Church, the liturgy, and an ever deeper knowledge of the Divine Mysteries. Your time and commitment to the requirements of seminary living have not only benefited your discernment but undoubtedly the spirit and well-being of the seminary community. Moreover, while you discern the possibility of serving the Church as a priest, the Church too must discern the call determining its authenticity and motivation.
To serve as a priest in the present day can be a venturesome challenge. Priests are asked to undertake significant responsibilities in a most competent yet pastoral manner. In his message for the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, our Holy Father, Pope Francis writes:
“Vocation to the priesthood is a gift that God gives to some for the good of all…Responding to God’s call, we become priests to serve our brothers and sisters. The images of Christ we take as priests are clear: He is the “high priest,” at the same time close to God and close to man; He is the “servant,” who washed the feet and makes himself close to the weakest; and He is the “good shepherd,” who washes the feet and makes himself close to the weakest; and He is the “good shepherd,” who always cares for his flock.” (Pope Francis, Address, 20 November 2015)
Your discernment of priestly ministry has indeed matured since your entrance into the seminary. You have successfully embraced the requirements of priestly formation generously offering yourself by example and leadership.
I am pleased to inform you that I have accepted your request to continue formation to the priesthood by moving to the next stage of priestly formation with studies at a major theologate. I am assigning you for priestly formation at Saint Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, beginning in August 2019.
On behalf of the faculty of Saint Paul Seminary, the members of the Priestly Formation Board, and in my own name, I extend to you my heartfelt congratulations. As you complete your studies and discernment at Saint Paul Seminary, please be assured of my prayers for you.
Grateful for our belief that “Nothing is Impossible with God,” I am
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend David A. Zubik
Bishop of Pittsburgh
So there it is! I’m excited for this opportunity to continue on the path to priesthood. I am very much aware of the fact that this is not a path for the faint of heart, so knowing that I’ve been approved to take this next step is certainly a thrill. God will certainly do great things, of this I am confident. As always I ask for your prayers as I continue in my journey. Know that you will be in mine.
Peace and Blessings,