Cardinal Dolan explained the pivotal role of priests during his homily to 120 guests attending the Evening for Vocations March 21 at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie.
“A priest builds a bridge between God and people, to bring God closer to people and to bring people closer to the Lord,” Cardinal Dolan said.
When the cardinal was recently at a hospital to visit a burn victim, he said other patients and visiting family members saw him.
“In the hospital, people immediately recognize they need God,” he said. “They want to draw closer to God. In a period of need, in a period difficulty and in a period of sickness, they immediately are open to God’s activity in their life. For them, a priest is an answer to their prayers.”
The guests, including many students from Catholic schools in the archdiocese, began by touring the seminary. They visited the chapel and library, which has a collection of rare books dating back to the 16th century and the chair used by Pope John Paul II during his visit to the seminary in 1995.
After evening prayer, guests listened to three seminarians speak and enjoyed a dinner of pasta, chicken parmesan and salad.
“It’s always one of the highlights of my year to have the guys here,” Father Christopher Argano, vocations director for the archdiocese, told CNY.
“To have high school and college age guys here, it shows there is definitely still an interest to think about a vocation to the priesthood. It’s still in their mind and heart.
“The most important thing is to be open to whatever God’s will is in your life. If our heart is open to what God wants for us, we can’t go wrong with that. If it’s priesthood, that’s wonderful, but the most important thing is to be open to whatever God is calling you to do.”
Emmanuel Uzobuife and Christopher Mendez joined fellow students from Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx who were visiting St. Joseph’s with school president, Father Joseph Tierney. For Emmanuel, it was his first visit to the seminary.
“Overall, I loved everything about seeing the building,” said Emmanuel, a freshman. “I loved (Cardinal Dolan’s) message. He helped me understand the way I should look at a priest and understand what the priest does. It helped me understand more about my faith as a whole.
“Right now, I would like to become a doctor in the future and help people, specifically help athletes, because I’m an athlete myself and I can see how much they hurt. I’m open in my vocation. If God calls me, I’ll be there right away.”
Mendez, a senior at Cardinal Hayes, is planning to study theology at Fordham University and is considering a vocation to the priesthood after college.
“I think tonight it was really the presence of God in the chapel. It was beautiful,” he said. “Cardinal Dolan’s homily really touched my heart and it helped me get one step closer into discerning my vocation from God. His message on the role of the priesthood in human life was really touching and it resonates in my heart.”
Vincent Siracusa, Hudson Scanni and Steven Anzalone were among 47 guests who came from St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School, Staten Island. The three seniors, who were visiting the seminary for a second time, are planning to attend college and have thought about a vocation to the priesthood in their future.
“I love being here. It feels like a home. I feel welcome here,” Steven said. “I love the chapel, the stained glass windows and the architecture.”
Peter Canale, an eighth-grader at Annunciation School in Crestwood, was making his first visit to the seminary.
“It’s beautiful. It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be,” he said.