These days I have though a lot about vocations, and with the gospel passages we have been hearing, I have thought a lot about the vocations of the Apostles our Lord called. These twelve were the first bishops of the Church, the first ones who our Lord entrusted with certain authority and the ability to confer the sacraments. What would your life be without the sacraments? What would my life be like? I think we would probably be in agreement: it is hard to imagine life without the grace of Baptism, Confirmation, confession, the Holy Mass.
The Lord has blessed us with some great and holy shepherds in this neck of the woods, in particular I am thinking of St John Neumann. He is different from the Englishman Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman. This St John Neumann came to the US in 1836 originally to Buffalo. Eventually he was sent to a Philadelphia where he was consecrated a bishop. He was only a bishop for about eight years, but in those eight years he worked hard. He established the first Catholic school system and organized a diocesan schedule of 40 hours. He knew at least six languages, and one Irish person even declared “isn’t it grand that we have an Irish bishop?”
We need to really pray and work to encourage men to consider the priesthood. Point them to heroic figures like St John Neumann who are truly inspiring. No man is ever worthy of the call, including the Apostles! When he was ordained a priest in New York he was one of 36 priests for 200,000 Catholics. So he would certainly understand the challenges we face in our own diocese.
He went to Bellefonte, saw the poor condition of the chalices there, and decided to buy a new chalice. He was on his way to mail this when he died. This Msgr [point to Msgr Saylor]got to use said chalice at his first mass in 1955.*
* I have not been able to verify the accuracy of this anecdote.