By Tony DeGol
Whether we realize it or not, our personal journey often mirrors the story of Jesus and Peter encountering stormy waters.
“Indeed, the boat of our lives slowly advances, restlessly looking for a safe haven and prepared to face the perils and promises of the sea, yet at the same time trusting that the helmsman will ultimately keep us on the right course,” wrote Pope Francis. “At times, though, the boat can drift off course, misled by mirages, not the lighthouse that leads it home, and be tossed by the tempests of difficulty, doubt and fear.”
Those who choose to discern the Lord’s call often face the same uncertainty, Pope Francis conceded.
“The Gospel, however, tells us that in the midst of this challenging journey we are not alone,” he emphasized. “Like the first ray of dawn in the heart of the night, the Lord comes walking on the troubled waters to join the disciples; he invites Peter to come to him on the waves, saves him when he sees him sinking and, once in the boat, makes the winds die down.”
The Holy Father’s words are part of his message for the 57th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will be observed on May 3 – the Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday.
This year, as most Catholics around the globe continue sheltering in place, they are called to join the universal Church in praying that more young people will consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
The World Day of Prayer for Vocations is also an opportunity to prayerfully support the five Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown seminarians in formation for the priesthood – two of whom will be ordained transitional deacons in just weeks.
“Every vocation is born of that gaze of love with which the Lord came to meet us, perhaps even at a time when our boat was being battered by the storm,” added the Pope.
Certainly, our world and our Church face many storms, admitted Father Matthew Reese, Pastor of Our Lady of the Alleghenies Parish in Lilly and Diocesan Director of Vocations. The key to overcoming the rough waters, he insisted, is hope and trust.
“We hope for a time when things will become better, but beyond that, hope that we will excel in terms of priests coming about and ministering to our needs,” Father Reese said. “I can tell you, having discussions with some young men, that these times are prompting questions: Is God calling me now? The world is in need, and I see something that I haven’t seen before, and I feel called to help and minister to the people in need.”
Pope Francis, by recounting the story of Peter admitting his need for Jesus, reminds us that we, too, must turn to the Lord to fulfill our own needs.
“We need priests to bring us the sacraments,” continued Father Reese. “We need priests to bring us Jesus and the Eucharist. We need vocations.”
Editor’s Note: Diocesan Director of Vocations Father Matthew Reese shares his 2020 World Day of Prayer for Vocations message on the May 3 edition of Proclaim! at 10:30 a.m. on WATM ABC 23.