DIOCESE OF ALBANY • SPRING 2020 VOCATIONS NEWSLETTER
Fear and Faith During Troubling Times
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
As a priest, it is painful to be least accessible when the people of
God are afraid, sufferring, and in such spiritual, financial, and
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
Fight spiritual malaise by getting disciplined about exercise. After all, as St. Thomas says, “grace builds on nature.”
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
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 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
"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
"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."
"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.'"
"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.
"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."
"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
"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."
"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."
"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!'"
"I am ready to complete one part of my journey with Christ and enter into continuing journey of serving Him and His Church!"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
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 email@example.com.