UP Catholic 02 05 2016 E Edition Page 4

4 February 5, 2016 THE U.P. CATHOLIC www.upcatholic.org W e live in a fast changing world in terms of demographics. We have a priest, Father Dominic Agyapong, who is serving at our Cathedral in Marquette and is from Gha- na, Africa. He joined a small group of priests last week who were having dinner with Bishop John Doerfler at the bishop's home. The Church is flourishing in Ghana. Pope Benedict XVI, in his pastoral visit to Africa a few years ago predicted that Ghana is the hope of the Church in Africa. We can hope and pray that the popes words will be fulfilled. However, Father Dominic told us that members of the Muslim faith have predicted they will in time dominate Ghana and all of Africa. As evidence they cite that the Muslim families often consist of one husband with many wives and even many more children. Some predict the Christian church in Europe is past being a continent of Christians but rather a minority. The Church in Germa- ny, I read recently, is experiencing a dearth of vocations of those studying for the priesthood. All of which calls us to pray for vocations. Encourage young men, your sons and brothers, to consider the priesthood. We asked some years ago in our diocese for people to encourage young men who seem promising for a priestly vocation and ask them to consider becoming a priest. Approach them and say simply six words: Have you considered becoming a priest? Surely the Spirit calls a sufficient numbers of the faithful to the priest- hood. Sometimes young men need a boost or a word of encouragement to take this step. Pope Francis was interviewed recently about the Jubilee Year of Mercy. One reporter asked about the importance of divine mercy in the Popes life. He has repeatedly affirmed his awareness of being a sinner. He said, I am a sinner. I am sure of this. One whom the Lord has looked upon with mercy I still make mis- takes I confess every 15 or 20 days because I need to feel Gods mercy is still upon me. He recalled his experience of September 1953, when he was 17 years old. He entered a church and confessed to a priest he did not know. From then on his life was changed. He decided to become a priest and his con- fessor who was suffering seriously from leukemia, accompanied him with prayerful support during his first year of studies. He died the following year, said Pope Francis. I cried bitterly and felt totally lost and aban- doned by God. The date of that confession was Sept. 21, 1953, St. Matthews feast day, the apostle whom Jesus looked at with pity- ing and choosing, words that Pope Francis made a part of his episcopal motto. God loves me as I am; so I must love others in the same way, the Holy Father said. I find it a moving coincidence that on that same date, September, 1953, my life was changed. I was graduated from Ohio State University in June and was consider- ing job offers to become a speech and hearing therapist from several school superintendents in Ohio. I was not comfortable with accepting those offers. Instead I went to our pastor at St. Columbkille in Wilmington, Ohio, Father Stuber. I told him I was wondering if I should enter the seminary. Good! he said and immediately picked up the phone and called the rector of the semi- nary in Cincinnati. The next day he drove me down to see the rector who accepted me as a seminarian at St. Gregory Seminary. That began six years of seminary preparation and then ordination to the priesthood. After ordination to the priesthood I baptized two babies who were twins, my grand nephews, Brett and Ryan. On January 1 of this year, in my nephews home parish, I celebrated the Rite of Candidacy for Holy Orders by which Brett was officially recognized by the Church as a candidate for holy orders. God willing he will be ordained a priest in two years after completing his theology studies and being accepted by his bishop for service in the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio. Christ gave this command: Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest. Aware of the Lord's concern for his flock and realizing the needs of the Church, our brother considers himself ready to respond generously to the call of the Lord. Trusting the Lord in whom he puts the hope of faithfully pursuing his vocation, he says with the prophet, Here I am, send me. Therefore, when he has been duly tested, his bishop will call and ordain him a priest, marking him with the singular seal of the Holy Spirit for the ministry of God and the Church. For by holy orders he will be deputed to continue the saving work of Christ which he accomplished on earth. Therefore, he will serve the Church and build Christian communities by the preach- ing of the word and the celebration of the sacraments. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send us priests PASTORALLY SPEAKING Bishop James H. Garland ENCOURAGE YOUNG MEN, YOUR SONS AND BROTHERS, TO CONSIDER THE PRIESTHOOD. Iron Mountain parish supports St. Vincent de Paul Immaculate Conception Parish in Iron Mountain held its Seventh Community Fellowship Breakfast and Christmas Bake Sale on Dec. 13, with proceeds donated to the Saint Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. Pictured is Fran Gundlach, Iron Mountain Saint Vincent de Paul Saint Francis Conference president, accepting a check for $4,398 from Msgr. James Kaczmarek, the parish pastor.

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