By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
NORTH WALES – “We’re storming heaven for future priests from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”
That was the declaration made by Msgr. Philip C. Ricci, pastor of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Parish in North Wales, Montgomery County, as he smiled upon the 800 Catholics who convened at MMR Church from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11, for a Holy Hour Cardinal Justin Rigali led to promote vocations to the diocesan priesthood.
In conjunction with the Jan. 10-16 National Vocation Awareness Week, Cardinal Rigali has asked all the faithful of the Archdiocese to unite in prayer for an increase in priestly vocations for the Philadelphia Archdiocese. He also requested that on Jan. 11 all 267 parishes provide adoration throughout the day, concluding with a 7 p.m. Holy Hour.
“Tonight, in our Archdiocese, there are courageous young men who are discovering their personal calling by Christ to be his priests,” said the Cardinal in his homily.
He acknowledged one such young man from MMR: 18-year-old Matthew Brody, a seminarian in first college at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
“Certainly, Jesus is calling many more young men to be His priests, to be happy, joyful, obedient and trusting priests in His Church at the service of His people …
“This involves families taking every opportunity available to hear God’s Word in prayer and in family life,” said the Cardinal. “This involves parishes becoming true schools of prayer where Jesus’ voice is heard and followed with confidence. This involves all of us, coming together tonight, to be with Christ Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, and to speak with Him about the need of His Church, for more priests.”
Among the numerous families present at the Holy Hour were George and Melissa Mussoline and their three children: Nicholas, 14, an eighth-grader at MMR School; Matthew, 11, an MMR sixth-grader; and Marielle, 8, a second-grader at MMR.
Although George and Melissa have discussed with their two sons the priesthood as a potential vocation, neither has pressured them, they said.
Eight-year-old Liam Goldbacher, a third-grader at MMR, accompanied his grandparents, Harry and Diane Goldbacher, to the Holy Hour.
Liam’s grandparents underscored the collaborative roles that families, parishes and schools play in molding young minds.
“He’s getting a Catholic education and we believe in consistency,” Harry Goldbacher said. “If there’s any question in his mind about why do do this or what’s this for, the Church needs to answer that. And the best way to get answers is to attend, generate questions and take it back to his teacher or Msgr. Ricci or whoever can answer.”
Diane Goldbacher said it would be “a wonderful thing” if Liam were one day called to the priesthood.
“That has to be an informed decision,” Harry added. “Whatever is the Lord’s will and his following if he chooses.”
Since MMR was founded in 1987, three men from the parish have been ordained priests and parishioners have helped form 39 seminarians from St. Charles Seminary through internships and field education assignments at MMR, according to Msgr. Ricci.
Among those St. Charles seminarians is Rev. Mr. Thomas Gardner, 26, a transitional deacon in fourth theology whose home parish is St. Luke the Evangelist in Glenside, Montgomery County. Scheduled to be ordained a priest of the Philadelphia Archdiocese this May, Deacon Gardner has been assigned to MMR for his transitional diaconate year, which officially began last June.
“Tonight really was a great point of encouragement for me, just to see the support and this great crowd,” he said. “This parish is very strong.”
Matthew Brody, the oldest of Jim and Karen Brody’s two children, can also attest to the significance that the MMR parish family has played in his life. He has served as an altar server and lector, a high school representative on the parish pastoral council, played violin, piano and organ during liturgies and has discerned his call to the priesthood before the Blessed Sacrament in the parish’s church and adoration chapel.
“I’m very happy,” Brody said after the Holy Hour. “It was a beautiful liturgy. It’s a great week.”
National Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. Bishops’ Conference designated the 28th Sunday of the year as the first of the seven-day commemoration. In 1997, the celebration was moved to coincide with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which marks the initiation of Jesus into public ministry. This year, the feast day was celebrated Jan. 10.
For more information about priestly vocations in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, contact Father Christopher B. Rogers, director of the Vocation Office for Diocesan Priesthood, at 610-667-5778 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Access the vocation office’s web site at www.heedthecall.org.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or email@example.com.