Up Front and Personal

‘Be Grateful for the Gift’ of a Vocation

by Father Christopher Bethge

Every year at the end of August and the beginning of September there is a national gathering of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors (NCDVD). This meeting brings together all of the vocation directors of the United States as we look ahead to a pastoral year of prayer, hope, and excitement. 

This year our convention was hosted at the Retreat Center located at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York. It was a great joy to welcome so many of my brothers in ministry to a place that means so much to me personally, as I spent one year in formation in Huntington, before moving to St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, to complete my formation. The fact that we were on our “home turf” meant we were able to welcome Bishop Robert Brennan to celebrate our closing Mass for us. At that Mass, Bishop Brennan encouraged us to always be grateful for the gift that we have received in our own priesthood. 

This year’s convention was the 60th in the history of NCDVD. It was for me a great experience of learning and joy. I had the opportunity to learn best practices in vocation work through workshops, small group discussions, and through various vendors who spend their life’s work in support of vocation ministries here in the U.S. and beyond. The joy that I experienced was in knowing that I am not alone in this work of vocations — that in every corner of our country there are others who experience the same struggles and successes that I do in my own ministry. 

Here in Brooklyn, we are so grateful that the Lord has blessed us in this upcoming year with 37 seminarians. These young men, who are discerning and preparing to answer the Lord’s call to the altar as priests, give me great hope for the future. However, though grateful for these 37 seminarians, I acknowledge that we need to do more. This year through various ministries — Fraternitas, Jeremiah Project, and Project Andrew — we will ask the question, “Could God be calling you to service in the Church?” My sincerest prayer is that many will have the courage to respond with generosity. As we journey through this time of Eucharistic revival I believe that when our love of Jesus present in the sacrament of the altar grows, so too, will the desire of many to serve too at that altar. Please pray for vocations here in Brooklyn and Queens. 

Much will be done in the work of vocation here in Brooklyn and Queens throughout these next months; I am grateful though for this week where I was able to be with my brothers and sisters in this work of vocation ministry. 

During this time of convention we were gathered not only in study but also in prayer. 

Each day we celebrated the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic adoration, recitation of the rosary, and daily Mass. 

It was from these moments of encounter with the Lord that we receive our strength to go out and encounter the Lord’s people who He is calling to the priesthood, diaconate, and religious life. 

The work of NCDVD is invaluable as it equips all of the nation’s vocation directors with the tools and the contacts that we need in the work of vocation. 

In addition to the priests who were in attendance, there were a great number of staff members who also were there to grow in their ministries. 

Here in Brooklyn we are so lucky to have Christine Dost, who is our administrative assistant in the Office of Vocations. 

Her ministry to this office is tremendous, as she is ever ready to help with kindness to all who come our way. 

I am also grateful to Rosemary Sullivan who serves as the executive director of NCDVD for working so hard to make sure that we have all that we need in this work.

 Most especially reminding us year after year that we are not alone; rather, we have brothers in this work who are there to support, encourage, and assist.

Father Christopher Bethge is the Vocation Director for the Diocese of Brooklyn and is on the faculty of Cathedral Preparatory Seminary