By TAMI QUIGLEY
“Above and beyond all we do to promote vocations is the Eucharist,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert, speaking at the Ordinand Dinner honoring Father John Hutta, newly ordained priest of the Diocese of Allentown June 18 at St. Mary, Hamburg.
“The Eucharist is the center of the discernment process. The Eucharist stirs up in a person the desire to serve the Church in such a way.”
Father Hutta’s first priestly assignment is assistant pastor of Sacred Heart, West Reading and Holy Rosary, Reading, and hospital chaplain at Reading Hospital.
The Serra Clubs of the Diocese of Allentown District I-80 hosted the celebratory evening that drew 165 guests.
Bishop Emeritus Edward Cullen also attended and offered a brief reflection. Both Bishop Schlert and Bishop Cullen were greeted with a standing ovation when they spoke.
Father Hutta celebrated a late afternoon Mass at St. Mary prior to the reception and dinner.
Those attending the festive evening included Father Hutta’s family, clergy, women religious and Serrans.
Father Hutta’s family members attending were father John Hutta, mother Diane Hutta, stepmother Cindy Klein, sister JoLynn Shelton, sister Vanessa Klein-Lesniak and brother Skyler Klein. Also attending were good friends Deacon Edward and Anne Girard of Sacred Heart, Palmerton, Father Hutta’s home parish.
The theme of the evening was “The Priesthood is Love of the Heart of Jesus.”
Marie Mazzini, district-governor, presented Father Hutta with gifts on behalf of Serrans, including the medal “Mary, Queen of the Clergy, Pray for Us.”
At the Priest Appreciation Dinner in 2007, Serrans presented this medal to every priest in the Diocese of Allentown. They have since continued to give it to all newly ordained priests and, when possible, to priests coming into the Diocese.
Father Hutta was also given a replica of the Blessed Junipero Serra plaque, originally crafted by the late Serran Joe Iezzi.
As he addressed the gathering, Bishop Schlert marveled that June 27 will mark a year since his appointment as Bishop of Allentown was announced. “I can’t believe what a beautiful year it’s been – more than I deserve.”
“The highlight for me is seeing people in their parishes with their priests and religious. The life I see in our parishes is really vibrant, and people really love their priests, deacons and religious.
“That’s where vocations flourish – where we see men and women devoted to the Gospel. Parishes are fertile ground for the promotion of vocations.
“As Bishop, what I really want to do is provide for the Church in future years, especially with priests, for without priests there is no Eucharist, and without the Eucharist we are not nourished.”
Bishop Schlert thanked Monsignor David James, Diocesan vicar general, on his last day as director of the Diocesan Office of Vocations. “He has other jobs now,” Bishop Schlert said with a smile.
He especially thanked Monsignor James for his work with Quo Vadis and Fiat Days vocation camps at DeSales University, Center Valley. “We’ve had seminarians come out of that and some women religious as well.”
Bishop Schlert said this year 40 boys and 40 girls are registered for the camps that will run Sunday, July 15 through Thursday, July 19.
“All of us, even if we’re not discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, are called to pray before the Blessed Sacrament,” Bishop Schlert said.
“The Eucharist is at the center for all of us in the vocation apostolate.”
Serrans and everyone should, for example, make some time before or after Mass to pray for more priests and sisters.
“For men and women discerning, the daily holy hour is essential. Nourished by the Holy Eucharist and spending time by the Holy Eucharist – that’s how a vocation is born, grows and is sustained,” Bishop Schlert said.
Bishop Schlert asked everyone to be part of a Diocesan effort to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, not only for their own cares but also for men and women “to hear the noble calling to the priesthood and religious life.”
“It’s a tremendous legacy for those who come after us,” Bishop Schlert said, saying priests will then be here for the sacraments, such as when people marry and have their children engaged in the life of the Church, especially in the Sacrament of Baptism.
“With God’s blessing we accepted three seminarians this year, and maybe another four” who will attend St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, according to Bishop Schlert.
“The good efforts that have been made over many years are bearing fruit.”
“John, you’re blessed with the greatest Diocese and the absolutely most magnificent Bishop to start your priesthood,” Bishop Cullen told Father Hutta.
“The love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the communion of the Holy Spirit – these three concepts are key for you and all of us who profess the Catholic faith,” Bishop Cullen said.
“The love of God – the love of the Father who created each one of us and sustains us – what a God we have. Christ – everything comes to us through the love of the Father through Christ in grace. The communion of the Holy Spirit – that’s the person of our triune God who lives within us.
“To know that you’re alive in God is to be aware of the Holy Spirit in your being. That’s important for all of us, and especially for priests. When you’re alive in the Holy Spirit you’ll recognize the magnificence of your faith and the magnificence of your call.
“The love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the communion of the Holy Spirt – if you have that, you are a powerhouse, and you were ordained to be a powerhouse.”
“It’s good to be here,” Father Hutta said, voicing thanks to everyone.
“Serrans, I’m always going to be praying for you. It’s amazing, your prayers are so powerful for us.”
Father Hutta also thanked Bishop Schlert and Bishop Cullen, noting he was the last deacon to be ordained by Bishop Cullen, and was the first priest ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Schlert.
“Thank you for your love, generosity and prayers,” he told those gathered.
Joseph Bechtel, past district-governor, welcomed those gathered and was the evening’s master of ceremonies.
Father Edward Essig, pastor of St. Francis de Sales, Robesonia and chaplain of the Reading Serra Club, led the prayer for vocations.
Father Anthony Mongiello, pastor of St. Anne, Bethlehem and chaplain of the Bethlehem Serra Club, prayed the invocation.
Father William Campion, pastor of Sacred Heart, Palmerton, introduced the guests and said, “It’s been a privilege for many years to be John’s pastor.”
Monsignor Daniel Yenushosky, pastor of Holy Trinity, Whitehall and chaplain of the Allentown Serra Club, led the prayer for the perseverance of vocations. Father Hutta offered the benediction and blessing.
What is Serra?
Serra is a nonprofit Catholic organization made up of laymen and laywomen who pray and work to foster and promote vocations to the ministerial priesthood and consecrated religious life.
The name is derived from St. Junipero Serra, a Franciscan missionary priest who established many missions in California in the late 1700s through his evangelization, and was canonized by Pope Francis Sept. 23, 2015.
Serra Clubs in the Allentown Diocese and their contacts: