Vocations column

“A voice cries out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.”

By Father Shawn Roser, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Venice in Florida,

In many ways, the year 2020 can be compared to traveling through a difficult, unknown, and challenging wilderness. Yet God’s voice and message still rings out loudly through His messengers.

As the holy season of Advent comes to an end and we look in eager anticipation toward Christmas, there are many preparations to be made. From decorations to gifts, to cards, our lists can become full. Yet, even more importantly, how have we prepared our hearts and souls to receive Christ once more?

In a similar way, there is a group of people in our midst, who are living their lives in total preparation for a mission, a vocation, to come. These men are the seminarians of the Diocese of Venice, studying to become future priests.

During their years of seminary training, their whole lives are dedicated to preparation for active ministry as God’s priests. Time and time again, they have shared with me their anticipation of serving God’s people and walking with them to the light of the Gospel truth.

This past summer, during our annual seminarian convocation and retreat at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice, Florida, we consecrated ourselves to St. Joseph, during the Diocesan “Year of St. Joseph” initiated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on March 19, 2020. And so, it is fitting that Pope Francis, has now declared a Year of St. Joseph for the Universal Church through Dec. 8, 2021.

God’s timing is indeed marvelous, for St. Joseph’s role in salvation history cannot be overstated. Joseph is a powerful intercessor, and in a particular way, an essential example for all those training for spiritual fatherhood. Like St. John the Baptist, he shows us the way- the way to the Father. Joseph was a simple craftsman of a small town, who hailed from a royal bloodline long bereft of power or glory, and yet was known by all as the “just man” for his personal sanctity. Although not a word of St. Joseph is recorded in Sacred Scripture. However, he always followed the path the Lord asked him to travel. By his own simple yes to God, he guided the Holy Family on that difficult journey to Bethlehem and helped raised Our Lord to manhood alongside Our Blessed Mother, Mary.

Our seminarians are preparing to lay down their lives in service to you, God’s people. And so, one day soon, God willing, you will hear their words, “This is My Body, Given Up for You” echoing at Holy Mass. And so, we turn to you and ask your support for them on their journey towards ordination.

As the upcoming Annual Seminarian Collection (the first weekend of 2021) approaches, it is proper to reflect on the fact that it takes a great deal of time and resources to “make” a priest, but above all, it is prayer that sustains the journey. The funds we received from this important collection go directly to assist our seminarians with their tuition, room and board, and other necessary expenses during their years of preparation. Won’t you prayerfully consider supporting these sons of St. Joseph, these spiritual sons of ours, who one day will become our spiritual fathers in Christ?

May the Lord reward you for your generosity of heart and faithfulness to Him! While we do not know what the future may hold, we do know who holds the future: Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let us prepare for His coming!

To learn more about the Diocese of Venice Vocations Office, please visit venicevocations.org. You can contact Father Shawn Roser at 941-484-9543 or roser@dioceseofvenice.org. To support Diocesan seminarians, please https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/office-of-vocations/ and click the DONATE button or go to the Timothy Fund page at https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/timothy-fund/.