Fear and Faith During Troubling Times

In these strange, frightening, and yes, dangerous times, the people of God have been isolated from one another, from parish life, from their priests, and of course, perhaps most challenging in a lot of ways, from the Sacraments.

As a priest, it is painful to be least accessible when the people of God are afraid, sufferring, and in such spiritual, financial, and medical need.

The Holy Father addresses fear in light of Matthew's Gospel, and the story of Jesus and Peter in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. His words apply to all of us as we adjust to the "new normal."

He says:

After the multiplication of the loaves, which had astonished the crowds, Jesus told his disciples to get into the boat and precede him to the other shore, while he took leave of the people. The image of the disciples crossing the lake can evoke our own life’s journey. 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. 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.
This image may apply to those of us living out our vocation—priests, consecrated religious, and those living out holy marriages and raising families—and it very clearly reflects the internal struggle of those discerning their vocation, too.

The key moment in the story comes when Christ enables Peter to "walk on water." Peter is able to do what Jesus commands only when he puts aside fear of the storm, fear of drowning, and a lack of faith in the words of Our Lord.

Like Peter, in the course of our lives we sometimes turn away from Jesus and begin to sink. We must, then, continue to have faith that the storm will pass and the seas will calm.
It is with courage and faith in Christ that I ask you to pray for the Lord's Grace and Peace for all those suffering through this pandemic, but, especially on World Day of Prayer for Vocations, for those struggling with discerning their state in life.

Fr. Anthony Ligato

Vicar for Vocations


“Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life are first and foremost the fruit of constant contact with the living God and insistent prayer lifted up to the ‘Lord of the harvest’, whether in parish communities, in Christian families or in groups specifically devoted to prayer for vocations.”

- Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 48th World Day of Pray for Vocations, May 15, 2011

"Jerusalem was like a Ghost Town"
Nathaniel Resila's pilgrimage to the Holy Land was cut short by Covid-19
Nathaniel in Bethlehem at the Nativity Grotto--the spot of Christ's birth
At the River Jordan--where St. John the Baptist baptized Christ.
The Garden of Gethsemane.

Nathaniel Resila’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land was going great, until his trip to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which was unlike that of just about any other pilgrim throughout the centuries.

He spent the night there with fewer than a dozen other people, and during the trip saw a team of men in Hazmat suits come through the Holy site to sanitize all the surfaces.

It was the end of an 8-week pilgrimage for Nathan and about 30 other seminarians, and the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“A week before that,” Nathaniel said, “it was packed. It was brimming with pilgrims. The Holy City was basically a ghost town right before we left. It was eerie, I have to admit.”

When he returned to the group’s hotel, the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, they were the last guests to check out before the lockdown. Up until then, they were hearing news of the Covid-19 virus spreading in other countries, but hadn’t considered it would affect them, too.

“We thought, ‘It’s China and Italy, a bunch of other countries. We’ll be okay,’” he said. “Once everyone in Europe started shutting down borders, we got nervous. Our connecting flight went through Germany and it was a week away.”

One last thing Nathaniel thought to do was to spend the last of his money on vendors nearby, realizing that they were going to be immediately hurt by the shutdowns.

The itinerary was quickly changed, and the group ended up catching a flight to Newark, where the coronavirus screening process slowed down reentry and caused them to miss their connecting flight to Chicago.

When they finally arrived at Mundelein seminary, it was a ghost town, too. The school closed off a wing so the men could quarantine before returning to their home dioceses. 

After two weeks in quarantine, Nathaniel returned to the diocese, and spent Holy Week at the St. Isaac Jogues House of Formation with many other Albany seminarians and men in formation.

He’s now stationed with Fr. Francis Vivacqua at St. Mary’s in Ballston Spa, where he is able to pray, attend Mass, and pray for an end to the pandemic.

An online prayer group has been a huge help.

“I’m not going to say it’s been easy, being cut off from everything so suddenly and radically like we have been, but it hasn’t been impossible,” he said. “We’ve just had to get a little creative. We meet electronically and we pray to St. Michael to defend us. In this time, it’s very easy to give in to sloth, and the devil would have a field day with that.”

Discernment Today
Advice for discerners during the pandemic

Set a schedule

Get serious about how you’re going to use your time. Wake up at a certain time, plan your prayer and activities for the day—and be specific. As Fr. Brett Brannen says, “Specificity increases accountability.”

Get physical

Fight spiritual malaise by getting disciplined about exercise. After all, as St. Thomas says, “grace builds on nature.”

Don’t binge

It’s okay to watch a good film every now and then. But be intentional about it. Don’t choose whatever sludge Hulu recommends. Choose a good film and put it in your daily schedule.

Double your prayer time

Or, if you’re starting from zero, try thirty minutes of uninterrupted time, with your door closed, your phone turned off, and a good spiritual book in your hands.


You are not the first Catholic to live without the sacraments. Without the grace of the sacraments, there is nonetheless a special grace in this time. When fasting from the Eucharist, feast on scripture. When unable to confess to a priest, repent and do penance on your own. Thousands of Christians throughout the centuries have gone for months or years without the sacraments. So be intentional, and do your best to grow in holiness during this time.


2020 Ordinations
The 2020 Diaconate Ordination, which was scheduled for May 16, and Priesthood Ordination, which was scheduled for June 20, have been postponed. The new combined ordination date for Priesthood Ordination and Diaconate Ordination will be Saturday September 5, 2020 at 10:00 AM at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany.

The combined Priesthood Ordination Rite and Diaconate Ordination Rite will be celebrated by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger with eight men being ordained to the Permanent Diaconate and three men to the Transitional Diaconate. There will be one man ordained to the Priesthood on that day.

Ordination to the Priesthood
Charles Onyeneke

"The gift of ordination for me is a total call to sacrifice, a life lived in the spirit with Christ as the model that is being imitated. It also means to be a call to serve God by serving His wonderful people with passion, devotion, and love."
Ordinations to the Transitional Diaconate
Kyle Gorenski

"To me, ordination to the diactonate always seemed so far away. I’m filled with a great sense of joy and peace, but most of all gratitude to the Diocese of Albany and Fr. Anthony Ligato for believing in me. Thank you also to Fr. James Ebert, my pastor, and to all those who have prayed for and supported me during this journey. God Bless you All."
Daniel McHale

"Although my ordination to the diaconate has been delayed a few months due to COVID-19, in God's eyes there are no 'delayed' or 'belated' vocations: there are only vocations! This pandemic has given us a great witness for serving the common good in the thousands of doctors, nurses, and front-line workers who have selflessly dedicated themselves to healing the sick. As a deacon, I will dedicate myself to serving the people and healing the spiritual health of those who are ill. As Pope Francis said of our Church, 'We are a hospital for sinners.'"
Nathaniel Resila

"I have to admit that the postponement to our Diaconate Ordination has actually made me appreciate God’s sacred gift of Holy Orders even more. Though this has not always been easy for me on a strictly human level, it has become exceedingly clear to me just how much of a freely-given gift the Diaconate and the Priesthood are from Christ to His Church. Indeed, it is God’s loving law and Providence—not our own human will or subjective ideas—that govern all things, including, of course, Holy Orders and all of the Sacraments. As the Venerable Fulton Sheen so famously said, “the Priest (and Deacon!) is not his own.” Thus, the Deacon’s entire vocation, his entire sacred ministry, his being called to orders in the first place is ultimately not of his own making or according to his own plans, but according to the loving, merciful design of Jesus Christ. The time and the place, then, are ultimately not up to us, but to God. I pray that through Our Holy Mother Mary’s Immaculate Heart I might make the best use of the time that is given to me to prepare to minister in her Divine Son’s Holy Name as a Deacon this coming September!"
Additionaly, two of our seminarians will be ordained transitional deacons in Rome, tentatively scheduled for October.
Matthew Duclos

"Unlike other steps along the road to prepare for the priesthood, becoming a deacon has a unique characteristic: ordination. Ordination, a permanent and public promise to God in front of family, friends, and parishioners, is a solidification of my initial ‘yes’ several years ago to answering the call to become a priest."
Stephen Yusko

"As I look forward to my Diaconate Ordination I find myself incredibly grateful for the many gifts God has given me throughout my years of formation, but especially for his invitation to the Diaconate. For through it, Christ is asking me to follow him in a most intimate way, the way in which he himself walked; a way filled with suffering, but one that is principally defined by love. Thus, called by Christ for others, I pray my life may be spent guiding souls to Christ, so that they may rest and rejoice in his love."
Ordinations to the Permanent Diaconate
Nicholas Ascioti

"Ordination, for me, will be a continuation of my journey and participation within the mysteries of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I look forward to discovering the ways in which God will use me in service to those I encounter."
Ramon Bonifacio

"Life is changing a little bit now with this coronavirus situation. I think the Church may be different too. When we have the opportunity to serve the people of God again in person, I'm putting all my faith in the Holy Spirit to receive his gifts at time of ordination, so I can be a good servant."
Paul Cerosaletti

"As I consider my approaching ordination to the permanent diaconate, I see the celebration of that Sacrament as a great 'Yes!' and 'Amen!' to God and his Church by me and the Church. I draw strength and inspiration for that day from the Blessed Virgin Mary’s own great 'Yes!' to God, and I pray in anticipation of and for the graces of the Sacrament, offering my life back to the One who so generously gave me life. May I hold nothing of myself back from our Lord and Savior as servant of his Church, for 'the Almighty has done great things for me and Holy is His name!'"
Martin Dinan

"I am ready to complete one part of my journey with Christ and enter into continuing journey of serving Him and His Church!"
Ron Dombrowski

"Humbled is the first concept that comes to mind—that what I had felt within me was truly an invitation of the Spirit. The Church affirming my inkling and discernment over the past years is awesome; that I have been asked to serve in such a public way is truly humbling…the responsibility is frightening. However, I know and firmly believe I will never be alone even in tough moments."
Paul LeBlanc

"Over the past six years of initial formation, I have tried to focus on what it is to Be a Deacon, not necessarily what it will be to Do the things that Deacons do. As Ordination draws closer, I can finally see, feel, and understand, what God is calling me to Be as a representative of Christ's service sacramentalized. It's up to each and every one of us to find our place in God's loving plan and to be honest with it, true to it, and follow where Christ leads, because that's where you find your greatest joy and your happiness and your place in God's world. Ordination is not the end of this process for me, rather it is just the beginning."
Bernard McConaghy

"The Lord has a mission for me and it's too good to pass up. Ordination to the permanent diaconate will provide amazing opportunities to grow ever closer to Jesus Christ and to share and grow in faith with all who are seeking truth and love in their life."
Aaron Tremblay

"A part of diaconal ordination to me is to see a visible sign of God working in my life, a point where his calling of me to my true self in Him becomes visible. It is also a point in time where a transition takes place that by my example, others may gain the courage to also become their true self in Christ Jesus."

Upcoming Events

Events are planned to go on as scheduled but subject to change. Visit our website for the most current information.

Seminarian, Aspirant and Discerner Retreat

Pyramid Life Center, Pyramid Lake


6 PM

Seminarian, Aspirant and Discerner Drop In

Church of the Holy Spirit, East Greenbush


6 PM

Seminarian, Aspirant and Discerner Drop In

St. Mary's Church, Glens Falls


6 PM

Sixth Annual Concert for Vocations

St. Pius X Church, Loudonville


4 PM

Candidacy and Rite of Sending of Seminarians

St. Jude the Apostle Church, Wynantskill


7 PM

Ordinations Vespers Service

 St. Michael the Archangel Church, Troy


10 AM

Priesthood and Diaconate Ordinations

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Albany


2 PM

Diaconate Rites

St. Joseph’s Chapel
St. Joseph’s Provincial House, Latham

If you feel called to be a priest, be not afraid! Pray daily, seek the sacraments, and talk to a priest. If I can help you in any way to discern your vocation, please contact me at (518) 453-6690 or anthony.ligato@rcda.org.

Very Rev. Anthony F. Ligato, Vicar of Vocations
Diocese of Albany - Office of Vocations
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