Dina Marie opened the conversation by asking about Fr. Tony’s personal vocation call. He recalled the biggest influence on his decision to discern the priesthood was his parish priest. From watching his charismatic and caring example, Fr. Tony concluded, “I can do that, and I want to do that. That’s what the Lord put on my heart.”
They moved into discussing his seminary formation, where another priest, the Dean of Spiritual Formation, was instrumental in showing Fr. Tony a way to be a down-to-earth type of priest, able “to be authentic to yourself, and still be able to do God’s bidding,” the importance of discovering that through his vocation, he could now be fully ‘me.’ Fr. Tony summarized, “When we finally answer the call, it just feels like home.”
Fr. Tony spoke about all vocations, and that Vocation Awareness Week’s goal was to stop the world’s noise long enough to hear God’s voice and discover what we are each called to do, and “you’ll know it when it feels like home.”
In answer to Dina Marie’s question concerning ways to grow stronger in the life of holiness, Fr. Tony stressed to surround yourself with like-minded people. It’s one of the strengths of the seminary life, and a benefit of small-group participation in parishes.
Talk switched focus to the National Federation of Priests’ Council and its mission: the communion, brotherhood and solidarity of priests and bishops. Once you’ve committed to your vocation, it is important to be supported in that life-style, surrounded with like-minded people. “At the NFPC, through Priests’ Councils, we want priests to feel connected to one another so that we can continue to support each other in our on-going vocations…”
They discussed the four pillars of formation presented in seminary (spiritual, human, pastoral, intellectual), and Fr. Tony said that the NFPC focuses on the human and the pastoral, to give men a way to keep in touch with other priests on maintaining their health and sharing ways to be good pastors.
The annual Convocation of Priests is a great way to connect priests. It will be April 23-26, 2018 at the Millennium Knickerbocker hotel in downtown Chicago. Fr. Tony said that we have great speakers lined up but “the thing for me is the camaraderie,” with guys from all over the country. “It really feels like a family reunion because these are brothers…” He continues, “The new ones see the established relationships and we just kind of grab them and bring them in to the fold. It’s wonderful. I just love being around my brothers.” More information on the Convocation can be found at nfpc.org.
Dina Marie concluded their talk by asking Fr. Tony what the laity should be aware of concerning vocations. Fr. Tony said first, pray, for those discerning, for those who are already priests. Secondly, be on the lookout, for young men and young women, and look for “that heart of service.” Then don’t be shy about talking to them about a future religious vocation.
Fr. Tony closed in prayer for vocations and with a blessing for all those in the Portland area.