Today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, is traditionally called “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Each year on this Sunday we hear from one of the Gospel accounts, Jesus identifying himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. It is a very powerful image and one that is a favorite of many.
Who would not be moved by the image of the Good Shepherd holding a lamb tightly around his shoulders making sure that it is safe and secure? Or the image of the Good Shepherd caressing a lamb, holding it tenderly close to his heart? Or the image of the Good Shepherd with staff in hand watching over his flock? All very powerful images for us as we remember that it is Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who is the one who watches over us and protects us always from the predators that come our way in this life.
This Sunday is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We are being asked to pray that the Lord of the Harvest will touch the hearts of more men who will accept the invitation to the ordained priesthood, to serve as shepherds in the Name of Jesus. More often than not, all it takes is a simple invitation from someone to ask a young man if he has ever considered that God may be calling him to live his life as a Priest of Jesus Christ.
With that thought in mind, I ask you parents and grandparents (grandparents have awesome influence in the lives of their grandchildren) to pose the question to your son or grandson. Many times a young man is thinking about it but is waiting for someone to bring up the topic. So, do not be afraid. Ask and you may be surprised by his response.
I thank God each day that he called me to priesthood and that I said “yes” to his invitation. My years as a priest have been filled with great joy, even in the challenging times, and I can say without any hesitation or reservation that there is nothing else I would want to be doing with my life. It is an awesome way of life that cannot be fully explained. As St. John Paul II said, “Priesthood is both gift and mystery!”
On June 21, 2016 I began a new chapter in my priestly ministry. I took up the mandate of Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki to shepherd St. Joseph Parish. What a gift this parish community has been to me. It has been an awesome almost two years that cannot be put into words. God is so good in gifting me with this community of faith. As I have shared with others since I arrived here, there is something so unique about this parish that there are no words to describe it. Thank you!
On this Good Shepherd Sunday, I want to thank all of you for making my time here thus far an experience that has brought me so much joy. You remind me on a daily basis why it is that I am a priest and what the joys of the priesthood are all about. Thank you.
Know that all of you are lifted up each day in my prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Please pray for vocations to the priesthood and please pray for me that I may be a good shepherd to you.
— Father Dennis, April 22, 2018