On the path to priesthood

Three young men from the Diocese of Lansing took a big step closer to the holy priesthood when the were admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders by Bishop Earl Boyea, Sunday 18 August.

“My brothers, you now wish to join the ranks of those on pilgrimage toward the priesthood, to be runners in the arena,” said Bishop Boyea in his homily during Holy Mass at Saint Francis Retreat Center, DeWitt.

“If at times you begin to feel a bit lost and start to wander, know that there is no better way to get back on track than to look at the goal, to gaze on Jesus, to fix him in your sights. Let him be the prize for all of us and let us journey on toward him.”

The Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders is celebrated when a seminarian has reached a maturity of purpose in his formation and has demonstrated the necessary qualifications for ordination.

The three seminarians receiving candidacy on Sunday were: Corey Bilodeau from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Lansing; Shea Kettner from Saints Charles & Helena Parish in Clio, Genesee County; and Kevin Hufnagel from Christ the King Parish in Ann Arbor

In the presence of the bishop, each man publicly expressed his intention to complete his preparation for holy orders and also his resolve to fully invest himself to that end, so as to best serve Jesus Christ and his Holy Church.

The day in DeWitt concluded with a Vocations Dinner which was attended by 27 young men who are discerning a call to the holy priesthood. They were accompanied by their pastors and deacons.

Please keep Corey, Shea and Kevin in your prayers as they progress, God willing, towards the holy priesthood. Saint Charles Borromeo, patron of seminarians, pray for them! Bishop Boyea’s homily is reproduced below in full:

* Homily by The Most Reverend Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing, 
St Francis Retreat Center, DeWitt, Michigan, 
18 August 2019, 20th Sunday of Year C.

You, my brothers, are setting out on a path. You are becoming engaged this day to a priestly calling. If you have felt like you have been wandering around or leading a rather nomadic life, this is no longer what is placed before you. We are now running a race, as the Letter to the Hebrews tells us. We have a direction and a goal and thus really are no longer nomads but pilgrims. Three points follow from this imagery.

First, to be a pilgrim or a runner implies that there is a goal. That is why this is different than being merely a nomad. As Christians, we are running toward a goal, as candidates for the priesthood that is also clear. One difficulty is that we are often not clear about the goal or we lose sight of it and we start to wander aimlessly. Yet, we are not running toward just any finish line—we are running toward Jesus. We must keep our gaze fixed on him.

Secondly, to be a pilgrim means that we have hope. The best example of this is Jeremiah. This prophet had a rather sensitive character. He did not like being the bearer of bad news and yet that is the only kind of news God had him bring to the people of Israel. As a result, we have today’s account of the military leaders trying to kill him and we have the image of him sinking into the mud. It would have been easy to lose hope. But he did not. He trusted in God his savior. As pilgrims, we do not put our trust in this world, or in our possessions, or even in our talents. Rather, we put our trust in God.

Thirdly, to be a pilgrim means we are not alone. In that beautiful imagery of the runner in the arena, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews describes how there is a Cloud of Witnesses looking down upon us from the stands, helping us, encouraging us, moving us toward the goal. All those who have gone before us look down from heaven urging us to be faithful so that we too will arrive at the goal and share the prize, who is Jesus.

My brothers, you now wish to join the ranks of those on pilgrimage toward the priesthood, to be runners in the arena. If at times you begin to feel a bit lost and start to wander, know that there is no better way to get back on track than to look at the goal, to gaze on Jesus, to fix him in your sights. Let him be the prize for all of us and let us journey on toward him.

God bless you all.

The Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders, St Francis Retreat Center, DeWitt, 18 August 2019.   Left to Right: Father John Whitlock, Seminarian Director; Kevin Hufnagel; Shea Kettner; Corey Bilodeau ; Bishop Earl Boyea.