School is back in session and all 60 of our seminarians have begun yet another year of continued discernment and formation toward their calling as Catholic priests. Eight of these men began their formal formation for the first time this year and we ask you to keep them all in your prayers.
For many men discerning their call to the priesthood, the choice to enter the seminary seems so daunting – and it does come with sacrifice – but this homily by Fr. David Endres, Academic Dean of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West here in Cincinnati, gives a clear understanding of discernment and of the purpose of seminary life.
It is not unusual for someone in their 50s or 60s or 70s to say to me, “I should have been a priest” or “I really wanted to be a priest” or “I thought a lot about being a priest.” Decades ago more men entered the seminary — some stayed, some left – but most Catholic men thought about priesthood to one degree and with the passage of years, some still wonder if it was their vocation to be a priest – at times, living lives tinged with regret. But for whatever reason, God did not ask that of them; he did not invite them to embrace this life, or if He did, they did not accept the invitation.
Discernment is a dynamic of discovering the will of God and choosing it – but not just with one definitive act, not just one moment in time, but many moments – a process of saying “yes” to God throughout a lifetime.
This morning’s Gospel  gives us the first step, the realization that “many are invited, but few are chosen.” And not even all who are chosen, will respond. The good news is that if you are here, you have been invited, you have been prompted by the Lord to come here and discern His will. What this will ultimately mean, none of us can know for sure – at least not yet.
But as the will of God – and our responses – unfold, we should take courage in the invitation to be here. Not to be worried that we might not be worthy of the invitation, but with trust that if we are called to this life, God will give us the time, the place, the experiences that will be necessary to respond – in short, He will provide us the opportunity to conform our wills to His and enter the feast which is His love, His presence.
I pray that you, too, will “take courage in the invitation” the Lord has placed on your heart. If you are thinking about the vocation to the priesthood, please contact Fr. Schmitmeyer. He is here to help you understand the Lord’s calling in your heart and become the person God has made you to be.