St. Andrew Committee Creating Opportunities for Men Interested in Priesthood
By TAMI QUIGLEY
St. Andrew was instrumental in bringing other men, most important his brother Peter, to Christ. Peter was subsequently the rock on which Christ built his church.
It is fitting then that the Vocations Marketing Committee established by Bishop John Barres to enhance efforts in recruiting candidates to the priesthood has taken the title “St. Andrew Committee for the Promotion of Vocations,” placing its work under the patronage of St. Andrew.
The committee has been working together since last spring to create opportunities for men interested in the priesthood to come forward, and receive the support and encouragement of like-minded men and priests who have discerned their own call to the priesthood.
“To this end, the committee has developed a number of activities throughout the coming year,” said Msgr. David James, director of the diocesan Office of Vocations.
Father Eugene Ritz chairs the committee, whose members include Father Allen Hoffa, Father Angel Almodóvar García, Father Thomas Bortz and Marie Mazzini, all of whom Bishop Barres described as “tech savvy” in their research on vocation promotion. Msgr. James is also a member.
“This committee will add a ‘vibrant, interactive component on the new diocesan website,’” Bishop Barres said.
“The promotion of vocations to the priesthood is among the top priorities that Bishop Barres has identified for the Diocese of Allentown as we move forward and plan for our future,” said Father Ritz, noting the committee’s mission is to assist Msgr. James in promoting and marketing vocations to the priesthood.
“So far the committee has made it a priority to reach out to pastors and chaplains of universities, colleges and high schools, and provide opportunities for them to invite potential candidates to explore the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood,” Father Ritz said.
“During the past three months 40 young men from throughout the diocese attended an evening that consisted of time before the Blessed Sacrament, a talk by the host pastor, dinner and vocation stories presented by the priests who attended,” Father Ritz said, referencing the committee’s first activity, a series of “St. Andrew Dinners.”
These evenings gave men who are discerning a vocation the chance to join together in prayer and fellowship with each other, their parish priests, campus ministers or high school chaplains.
The dinners took place in October at St. Joseph the Worker, Orefield, and in November at Holy Guardian Angels, Reading; St. Patrick, Pottsville; and St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Easton.
Each pastor, campus minister or high school chaplain was asked to consider inviting two young men from his parish, college campus or high school who may have expressed an interest in the priesthood, or who may show signs of a possible vocation. The young men could be mature high school sophomores through early post-college age.
There was no pressure placed on the young men to make a commitment at the dinner. They were given an invitation to participate in the Aspirancy Program conducted by the Office of Vocations.
They are invited to the St. Andrew Committee’s next event, a “Come and See” discernment retreat Friday, March 23 through Sunday, March 25 on the campus of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia.
“Because of the commitment of so many dedicated priests we might look forward to many more considering the call and, like Saint Andrew, bring others to follow Christ,” Father Ritz said.