By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
WEST CHESTER – St. Agnes Parish has four seminarians enrolled at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood this fall – and the pastor, Msgr. Edward Deliman, has written a prayer so more men will answer the call in the future.
“I see strong, mature men who are prepared to make a commitment to the Church,” Msgr. Deliman said of Mark Cavara, Robert Gross, John Masson and John Stokely.
“They’re normal, young American men who realize exactly what it is that they are embracing,” the pastor continued. “They’re well aware of the sacrifices they’re making and the challenges that are there. They’re spiritually strong and prepared.”
John Masson, first theology and John Stokely, fourth college, entered St. Charles in 2005. Mark Cavara, second college, enrolled in 2007. Robert Gross, pre-theology I, joined them this fall.
“I’m just very proud to be pastor of a parish with four vocations,” Msgr. Deliman added.
He was appointed pastor of St. Agnes in June 2003. Last year, he wrote a vocation prayer that the parish has since been reciting at weekday and weekend Masses. [See prayer on page 17.]
At the time, the parish had three vocations. “We prayed that prayer, and God called yet another,” Msgr. Deliman said. “We’re going to continue that prayer. I think a lot are being called [but] are afraid to answer.”
Masson, 23, is a lifelong member of St. Agnes. The son of Denny and Cathy Masson, he graduated from St. Agnes School in 2000 and from Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown in 2004.
A former altar server at St. Agnes, Masson said the priests, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and parishioners helped foster his vocation. “We’ve always been blessed with great priests,” he said. “Msgr. Craven [the late former pastor] was a huge influence on me.”
Cavara, 22, is also a lifelong member of St. Agnes and a former altar server there. “When I first discovered that I might have a vocation, I was actually playing CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) football for St. Agnes. All the coaches on the team were men of high character. They were definitely men to look up to. These were guys who regularly attended Mass.”
Cavara, son of Noreen and the late Kenneth Cavara, graduated from St. Agnes School in 2001 and from Bishop Shanahan in 2005.
In prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at the perpetual adoration chapel at SS. Simon and Jude Parish in West Chester, Cavara asked the Lord what He wanted him to do with his life. The answer was clear.
Stokely, 21, considers himself, Masson, Cavara and Gross a fraternity of sorts. “It’s nice for us because we have a team among us,” he said.
“I wanted to be a priest since the first grade,” added Stokely, son of Deacon Patrick and Joan Stokely. A 2001 alumnus of St. Aloysius Academy in Bryn Mawr and a 2005 alumnus of Bishop Shanahan High School, Stokely joined St. Agnes Parish when he was a junior in high school.
The support he receives from the parish helps him to continue to respond to his call to the priesthood, he said.
Before he entered St. Charles this fall, Gross, 23, a native of the New York Diocese of Rockville Centre, was the youth minister at St. Agnes and began attending vocation events sponsored by the Philadelphia Archdiocese. This past winter, during Mass, an amazing feeling came over him as he was looking at the host during the consecration.
“All of a sudden, I got that sensation when I was looking at the Body of Christ. I thought that was a sign … my call,” he said.
Gross is also grateful for the support of the parishioners at St. Agnes and of his pastor, whom he considers a role model. “Msgr. Deliman became like a second father to me,” Gross said. “He’s down-to-earth. He knows how to relate his faith well with the parishioners. He’s a great leader in the Church.”
At Mass this past Aug. 16 at St. Agnes – just prior to their departure for St. Charles – all four seminarians were honored by their pastor and fellow parishioners. Masson, Stokely and Cavara were altar servers, while Gross served as lector.
The pastor is proud of the parishioners at large, whose prayers continue to support the seminarians. “There was just an overwhelming amount of affirmation for them and for their families at that Mass,” Msgr. Deliman said.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Agnes Parish prayer for vocations
Lord Jesus, bless our Church with priests after your heart. May the men of St. Agnes Parish that You are calling respond generously. Give them the courage and the insights to discern your invitation to serve as priests by speaking with a trusted priest or confidante.
We pray for women of this parish to consider the consecrated life. May their prayer be that of Mary – to proclaim the greatness of the Lord – through a life of service as a vowed religious.
Most Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are confident that you will hear our prayers and send good priests and consecrated religious women and men to guide the People of God.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103