Discerning a Vocation to the Priesthood

by DioceseofVenice | August 7, 2017 4:24 pm

By Bob Reddy (Florida Catholic)


For three days each summer, those men who have entered a program to discern a vocation to the priesthood gathered for the annual Diocese of Venice Seminarian Convocation. The time is spent at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice is crucial in the participants’ continuing formation with the opportunity to reflect on the past year, summer assignments, their progress and also to mentally prepare for the rigors of a new year of study.

Another key element of the convocation is getting reacquainted with fellow seminarians who attend four different seminaries and are each at different stages of their formation.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane with seminarians of the Diocese of Venice on Aug. 2, at the conclusion of their annual convocation at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.


Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the closing Mass for the convocation and offered words of encouragement, telling the seminarians that they need to continue to respond to the call of the Lord as they progress in their discernment process. (See below for a complete listing of the Diocesan seminarians and a Prayer for Vocations)

“You have already taken a major step on the way the Lord calls you to go,” Bishop Dewane said. “You must be sensitive to what the Lord is saying. You are each called to be more and you must keep listening.”

Seminarians of the Diocese of Venice pray in the St. Joseph Chapel at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice during Mass on Aug. 2 which concluded their annual convocation.

For Alan Balderelli, the convocation is an excellent chance to create fellowship among the seminarians. This convocation was his second as he will soon be returning to St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami.

“Last year I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect,” Balderelli said. “This year has been great. Hearing talks and spending time with the Lord in prayer has been very beneficial. I am looking forward to going back to seminary.”

His discernment of a vocation to the priesthood followed a long path that led him right back to where he began, a fervent need to have the Lord as a constant companion.

“I was looking in all the wrong places,” Balderelli said with a smile. “I had this strong desire to lead a good life but didn’t know where to turn. During that search, I started to pray more and opened myself up to the Lord and that led me here.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane addresses the seminarians of the Diocese of Venice on Aug. 2, at the conclusion of their annual convocation at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.

Many people are curious about the call to vocation, and Seminarian Carlos Encinas heard that question quite often during his recently completed Pastoral Year at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton.

“It is very personal,” said Encinas who will be returning to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. “For each seminarian, there is a different route to take, and even a different moment when they changed direction to grow closer to the Lord. It is deeply spiritual in nature, but most importantly I tell everyone they have to be open to hearing the Lord’s call and to be ready when that call comes.”

Retreat Director Father John Harris, OP, of Ireland, said the main thing he hopes the seminarians learned from his talks is that they need to prepare now for life as a priest and take this task with utmost gravity.

“You can’t wait until you are ordained to really become a priest,” Father Harris added. “This is the reason there is a formation process in the first place. Working now will prepare them for the realities and huge responsibilities that come with ordination.”

Diocese of Venice Director of Vocations used the convocation as a time to answer questions and make sure each seminarian is ready for the next level of discernment.

Father Scanlan said he is delighted with how each seminarian is progressing in their own formation and excited to have two new seminarians, each of whom showing tremendous potential.

“This is a process that is personal and enriching for those who are willing to make the commitment to serve God,” Father Scanlan said. “The Diocese is blessed to have such an impressive group who have proven their commitment to serve.”

The coming academic year will is expected to see two seminarians ordained to the Transitional Diaconate, the final step before Ordination to the Priesthood. They are: Shawn Roser, who will be ordained on Sept. 28 at Pontifical North American Seminary in Rome, and Encinas at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in the Spring.

There are currently 17 seminarians studying for the Diocese of Venice and they are supported through the Diocese Catholic Faith Appeal, with other assistance from the Knights of Columbus, Council of Catholic Women, and the generosity of the faithful.

To help a seminarian, please send a check to the Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

For more information about the seminarians or Vocations, contact Father Scanlan at scanlan@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-486-4720, or visit www.venicevocations.com.


The Diocese of Venice Seminarians, seminary and education level:


Prayer for Vocations

God our Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith sup-port vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.



Source URL: http://dioceseofvenice.org/discerning-a-vocation-to-the-priesthood/