by Father Kevin Abels
This past May 31, I celebrated my 10th anniversary as a priest. I can’t believe it has been 10 years! I am happy as a priest. Every day, I thank God for revealing this vocation to me and, most of all, for giving me the Holy Spirit who allows me to be the best priest possible.
As I reflect on these last 10 years, many thoughts come to mind. One is the effect that others have had on me as a priest. Let me say this. I would not be a priest today without the support of my family, priests and all the people of God in our parishes.
I think back to my days growing up in Our Lady of Hope parish in Middle Village. The thought of priesthood only came about through the examples of my parish priests who loved their ministry. They were interested in me and felt that God was asking me to be open to that possibility of serving Him as a priest. Looking back, I can’t underestimate that experience. Priests do have a tremendous impact on young people, as my parish priests had an impact on me.
Now that I have been a priest for 10 years, I look back on all the priests and people that have impacted my life as a priest. How grateful I am for their presence in my life!
As the vocation director for the Diocese of Brooklyn for the last five years, I see the same realities as being true. I believe young people are being called to consider a religious vocation. There is no doubting this! How important priests are as they help these young people discern the Lord’s call in their life! I continue to encourage my brother priests to have that impact on the lives of the young people whom you serve so well. Know that you are examples to them in many ways! You just don’t always know the impact you have on young people!
Allow me this opportunity to ask our priests to invite young people to the many different discernment opportunities sponsored by the Vocation Office. There is an event on Sunday, Nov. 24, for everyone, regardless of what stage of discernment they may be at. This will be the first Project Andrew of the year with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. Young people will have the opportunity to have a conversation with the bishop about priesthood and discernment. It will take place at 4:30 p.m. at St James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn, immediately following the 3 p.m. Mass that will conclude the diocese’s observance of the Year of Faith.
It would be great if priests could gather a group of young men from their parish and bring them to the Mass and the Project Andrew meeting. In addition to inviting those who have expressed an interest in priesthood, priests should also consider inviting any young man or a group of young men to attend. Even if they cannot attend the Mass, they can attend the Project Andrew.
I hope to see a large group on Nov. 24.[hr] Father Kevin Abels is the director of the diocesan Vocations Office.