Last Wednesday, we had a very special gathering at St. Paschal’s Parish in Oakland. We honored Fr. Ken Nobrega, who has been working as our Director of Vocations and is now moving back to parish ministry, and we welcomed Fr. Neal Clemens who is our new Director of Vocations.
This moment helped me to share with our seminarians some of my thoughts about their formation process. As many of you already know, I was very involved in seminary formation before becoming the Bishop of Oakland. I worked at St. Patrick’s Seminary for eight years and at St. John’s Seminary in Boston for three years; but I also had a long experience of formation myself with the Jesuits: I had twelve years of formation before I got ordained, and they gave me a lot of extra training about my own personal needs.
Thus, my thoughts about priestly formation are part from the Jesuits and part diocesan, and I believe that there is no “cookie cutter stamp,” or an automatic process for a man to become a priest: we need to tailor the formation process to the man, to each one, according to the many different backgrounds, strengths, gifts and needs of each one of our candidates. It is my goal that each one of our seminarians will become the best priest each individual can be to serve the needs of our diocese. That is the goal: be as well prepared as possible to become a holy priest.
As our seminarians are getting ready to start their new school year, let us pray for them, but let us also pray that in our families and parishes many young men will have the courage to hear the call from our Lord: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Photos: The Catholic Voice