All parishes hold Holy Hours to pray for religious vocations

By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

BROOMALL – In a Holy Hour replicated in every parish in the Archdiocese, several hundred of the faithful gathered with Cardinal Justin Rigali on the evening of Jan. 12 for Eucharistic Adoration at St. Pius X Church, Broomall, to pray for religious vocations and especially to diocesan priesthood.

Three of the Cardinal’s auxiliary bishops were presiding at Holy Hours throughout the Archdiocese at the same time: Bishop Robert Maginnis at Assumption B.V.M. Parish in West Grove; Bishop Joseph McFadden at St. Ephrem Parish in Bensalem; and Bishop Daniel Thomas at St. David Parish in Willow Grove.

“Tonight our special intention is that God will raise up generous young men to be shepherds for His people,” the Cardinal said.

“We gather here to pray in a special way for an increase in vocations to the priesthood for our Archdiocese so that our local

Church can continue its mission of serving everyone, leading all people to holiness.”

Preaching from the Gospel of St. Matthew, the Cardinal related how Jesus, while visiting the towns and villages and curing the sick, was moved to pity for the people abandoned like sheep without a shepherd.

“St. Matthew tells us, Jesus said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few. So ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.'”

In brief remarks after the Holy Hour, Father H. James Hutchins, pastor of St. Pius, thanked the Cardinal for his insights and remarked the service itself gave him a new appreciation for his own vocation.

The congregation was a mixture of ages, including some young people who were already in the process of discerning a religious vocation, or at least thinking about it.

The white veil and the habit of Sister Danielle Bernadette indicated she was indeed a novice with the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “I’m from Spring City. I went to Immaculata University for two years and worked with the older sisters at Camilla Hall before I entered,” she said. The service, she thought, was excellent and “the Cardinal was very prayerful,” she said.

Christopher Moriconi, who is in pre-theology I at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, is originally from St. Albert the Great Parish in Huntingdon Valley, but his family recently moved to St. Pius X. The Holy Hour, he thought, was “a very good idea, at the heart of going after vocations and furthering vocations in our Archdiocese through prayer. It was wonderful to see the Cardinal leading his flock in Eucharistic prayer before the Lord.”

Joining Moriconi at the service was his mother, Christine. When her son announced his plans to enter the seminary her feelings were a little mixed, she honestly admitted. “But it was something he desired more than anything else, and as a mom you want your children to follow their heart and find their life,” she said.

His vocation, she added, “is a blessing and a joy. I’m so blessed he is becoming part of a community that will fill the world with love.”

A number of young people from St. Pius at the service greeted the Cardinal afterwards. Among them was eighth-grader Andrew McHale.

“I think prayer for vocations is helpful,” he said. “One of my friends is actually considering it.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.