By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer
“Make wise use of your next semester of formation. Continue to pray that the call you feel becomes deeper every day,” said Bishop of Allentown Alfred Schlert, Dec. 29 while commemorating Christmas with Diocesan seminarians preparing for the priesthood and their pastors.
Ten seminarians and four candidates, who will enter St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia next year, gathered with Bishop Schlert to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in a relaxed and festive atmosphere at Lehigh Country Club, Allentown.
Msgr. David James, Diocesan vicar general and director of the Office of Vocations, welcomed the seminarians, candidates and pastors to the luncheon before the men prayed the Liturgy of the Hours.
After the Liturgy of the Hours, Bishop Schlert offered a prayer asking God to help the men live in the example of the “High Priest” Jesus Christ.
“We also ask that you bless our fraternity together. Bless those who are sick and alone, and we ask that you guide us in comforting them with prayer and our work. Help us in this life to be rich examples of the love we have for your Church,” said Bishop Schlert.
In his remarks, Bishop Schlert thanked the men for spending time together and shared why he chose to wear his black cassock, amaranth red sash and pectoral cross signifying the Office of Bishop to the festivity.
“I dress like this out of respect for those I’m hosting. This is how a bishop dresses to see the Holy Father; why wouldn’t I wear it for my own people who mean so much to me? The people under my pastoral care are worth every effort. You are all very important to me, and I want you to understand the shepherd’s responsibility I feel for each one of you,” he said.
“I am very proud of each and every one of you. I am dedicated to helping you in any way that I can. We need priests. I hold each of you dear in my heart. I mean it when I say I pray for you. It’s my duty and my privilege to pray for all of you.”
He thanked his brother priests for supporting his invitation for people to come “Home for Christmas” to one of the Diocese’s 84 parishes.
“They have to find something when they get home. Thank you for helping them ‘find something,’” said Bishop Schlert.
Bishop Schlert also thanked the pastors and urged seminarians to help people rediscover the joy of being Catholic.
“As seminarians and priests you bring joy to so many, but it also comes with a sacrifice for your families. Please take home to your families that I pray for them and thank them for supporting your vocation,” he said.
Seminarians attending the luncheon were Alexander Brown, Keaton Eidle, Giuseppe Esposito, Kevin Gembarski, Matt Kuna, Phillip Maas, John Maria, Aaron Scheidel, Jeffrey Tomczyk and Zachary Wehr.