CAPTION: Seminarians Michael Quillen and John Paul Heisler visit our parish every Thursday through the end of April 2018, as part of their field education program

The Saint Elizabeth Parish Vocations Committee is working to promote vocations to the diocesan priesthood. The Church has always needed priests to serve her people and celebrate the Sacraments, and the need has never been greater. The simple fact that the average age of men in the priesthood is rising at the same time that fewer men are entering seminaries and being ordained as priests, tells a big story. More priests are needed to fulfill the ever-growing needs of parishes in our archdiocese. The parish Vocations Committee provides opportunities for young men to discern a possible vocation to the priesthood. The committee plans and hosts events where high school and college-age students can learn more about the priesthood, pray together, gain insight into God’s will for their lives, and meet priests and community members to help with their personal discernment.

This year, Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary invited Saint Elizabeth Parish to host two seminarians during their field education program. Each Thursday between September 14, 2017 and April 26, 2018, Michael Quillen from the Raleigh, N.C. diocese and John Paul Heisler from the Arlington, Va. diocese are travelling from the seminary in Philadelphia to our community to gain some hands-on experience in parish life and pastoral care. They are also spending time each week with students in the parish school.

“We met the new seminarians in religion class. They help us review the material before tests,” said sixth grade student Trevor Barbadora. He
added, “It’s also pretty cool to talk with them about what they are doing to prepare to become priests.”

John Paul is the second oldest of nine children, and his sister is a Carmelite nun. He was home-schooled, but later attended Catholic college, spending one semester in France. “In my freshman year at Christendom College I heard God calling me to the seminary,” said John Paul. “I believe a young person enters the seminary because he feels God placing desires for the religious life in their heart.” His advice to young men who may be considering the priesthood is, ‘Pray often and pray from the heart,’ adding, “Peace will come through prayer, so a daily prayer life is essential.”

Michael is the middle child of seven, which contributed to his strong sense of family. “Being in formation at Saint Charles is teaching me how to be a Father – in the true sense of the word,” Michael explained. He was raised in the Baptist tradition and was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church at age 14. “I always had a ‘tug’ to do more than just altar serve,” he recalled. For Michael, being called into formation is a call to a deeper relationship with Jesus. A great benefit of this bond with Christ is the development of “stronger and deeper” relationships with his family and friends.

Father John Stokely, who guides our Vocations Committee, commented, “We are fortunate to have Michael and John Paul serving us at Saint Elizabeth
Parish this year.”

There are so many great vocations and professions for young people to think about: priesthood, permanent diaconate, religious life, marriage, single life, really a multitude of possibilities. These two young men have responded to God’s call with confidence and clarity, which is not easy in today’s complex society.

“It’s not unusual for young people to feel lost or uncertain about what the future holds,” said Father John. “I hope that our parish Vocations Committee evolves into a team dedicated to helping all young men and women seek God's will for their lives, enable them to hear His voice more clearly, and have the confidence to say ‘Yes’ to whatever call that might be.”
                                                                                                                                                                                   - Jonathan Hess