Sunday Scriptures

Prayerfully Searching for Shepherd Heroes of the New Millennium

by Father John Cush­­

For the past eight years, I was truly blessed to be on the faculty at one of the most amazing places in the world. For the greater part of a decade, I was given the true gift of serving as a priest in a unique institution. Whether it was in the classroom as a teacher, as the spiritual director of the school, or in some of the less fun but just as important roles of development, recruitment or reaccreditation, I consider my priesthood enriched by the time that I spent on the faculty of Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Elmhurst.

As an alumnus myself, I know how indebted I am to the formation which I received there as a student.  To have a high school dedicated to the promotion of priestly vocations for young men is truly a wonderful endeavor and credit must be given to Bishop Disario and the Diocese of Brooklyn for their care and support of such a place in this new millennium.

Many of the young men who graduate from Cathedral Prep become priests; many do not but go on to other worthwhile endeavors. It is the hope that the education and spiritual and human formation which a young man receives at Cathedral will make him into a man for others: a happy, healthy, holy man for others. It is all about helping the Lord to provide future shepherds for his sheep.

In the Gospel which we proclaim today from the sixth chapter of Mark, we see that “…his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” When was the last time we prayed as a parish or as individuals for an increase in vocations?  When was the last time we were able to encourage someone to serve God and the Church in a special vocation as a priest, a deacon, a religious sister or brother or in some other ministry in the Church?

The world can often look like a dire place. We see problems in all areas: in our world, in our country, in our city and, sadly, even in our Church and in our families. Yet despite the fears and anxieties from which we can suffer, the world is a good place. It is worth fighting for, to paraphrase  a famous quote from the author Ernest Hemingway.

Who will be the heroes of tomorrow? Who will be the shepherds for this new millennium? From where will they come? The answer to all those questions is simple. Right from Brooklyn and Queens, right from our parishes, schools, academies, faith-formation programs, youth programs, new ecclesial movements and, perhaps most clearly, from our families!

Encouraging vocations is everyone’s business, not just that of our diocesan vocation director and those charged with formation work!  It starts from the family that prays together, that worships together, that considers that a life of service to the Church is a valid and worthy option for their sons or daughters.

It continues in the parish, where a loving community of faith shows forth its dynamism in all the multi-faceted aspects of parish life. From priests who clearly love their priesthood and happily express that love in humble service, to deacons who live out the self-sacrificing way of Stephen, the proto-deacon, to the religious who, in vowed lives of poverty, chastity and obedience, bear witness to the Gospel daily,  to the laity, women and men, unabashed in love with Jesus who is the center of the lives!  All of us, if we want future good shepherds, must evidence the love that is Jesus in Himself to the world.

Love is effusive, and no love is more effusive than Christian love.  The old saying rings true: “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” In a world that emphasizes bad news all too often, the good news of the Paschal mystery needs to be shouted out all the louder.

Jesus Christ will always provide for his Church. May we trust in this fact, but may we also work and support vocations by our own lives of joyful service![hr] Readings for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 23, 1-6
Ephesians 2:13-18
Mark 6: 30-34

Father Cush will begin doctoral studies in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome this fall.