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In case you didn’t know this, there is a need for priests.

I know, I said the quiet part out loud.

It is the truth and essentially, the truth will set us free. But we must first face the truth head on. We have a need. The need for priests.

Throughout the past few months, I have been praying with Matthew chapter 9. Not just because it includes the call of St. Matthew.

In the beginning of Chapter 9 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is healing and driving out demons. By the end of the chapter, Jesus has compassion on those whom He is ministering to “because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd” (9:36). He then addresses his disciples with some troubling words: “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.”

With these words Jesus confirms our fears: There is a need for priests. This need is not new. Jesus Himself recognized the need while He was ministering. Jesus shares our desire for an increase of men to answer His call to the priesthood. We know the need. We see it in our parishes and ministries, we read about it in the news, and in this blog. The temptation is to lose hope.

In a February 2022 article published in titled “Vatican statistics show global imbalance in ratio of Catholics per priest,” Cindy Wooden states that the global ratio is 1 priest for every 3,134 Catholics. Obviously, she breaks down the numbers by continent (2,086 Catholics for every priest in the Americas). Although better, the number is still scary. After seeing the numbers, the temptation to lose hope becomes more of a reality.

When we read the final verse in the 9th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, our hope should be restored: Jesus says, “Ask the Master of the harvest to send out laborers for His harvest” (9:37).

Jesus tells us the problem, but also gives us the solution. Let’s ask God to send laborers, to call men to be priests!

My favorite word in the entire passage is “His.” I sometimes lose sleep because of the magnitude of this ministry, but then I remember this passage and I can sleep soundly. It is God’s Church; it is His harvest. We ask Him to send the laborers that He needs to do His work. In asking Him to send laborers, we are doing our part in salvation history.

Let us be bold in our prayer, let us be zealous in our resolve to pray for vocations from our parishes, schools, ministries, and our families. Let us pray for laborers.

We are not alone in this prayer for vocations. We ask those who have made it to Heaven, who have given their lives for the Gospel, to intercede for us daily, to pray with us. I invite you today and throughout this upcoming National Vocations Awareness Week (Nov. 6-12) to invoke our patrons here in the archdiocese to inspire young men to answer the Lord’s call to be priests.

Let us pray for vocations!

Comments from readers

Joe A. Iannone - 11/01/2022 07:08 AM
St. Peter was married as where most of the Apostles and priests during the 1st millennium. By ordaining married men and opening the diaconate to women, the Church would increase the availability of the Sacraments, especially in regions of the world where even the Eucharist is seldom celebrated….Joe A. Iannone
Peter Jude - 10/31/2022 02:54 PM
Fr. Matthew, thank you for all that you do to lead our efforts for the call to the priesthood! We must all work and pray together to ensure the call is answered.
Giuliana Guerci Gage - 10/31/2022 01:02 PM
There is a french movie made in the 50's. I remember it being very poignant. It was made in black and white. The title was ( in italian and I translate it into english):" God needs men". The director is the same director who made the movie "Bernadette". I remember both movies being inspiring but the former more than the latter. The italian TV broadcasted it annually for a number of years, then stopped. I read more recently when I googled it that the Vatican had some objections to it. I do not know why.I wish it could be seen again. Another very inspiring movie was" The keys of the Kingdom" from the Graham Green book. I often envision having cineforums in our parishes watching inspiring movies and having a discussion afterwords.

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