Seminarians who are in formation to become priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville choose to focus on the light of the world and not the darkness, said Father Anthony Chandler, director of the Vocations Office.
“Our seminarians are seeing their life in a new light, in the light of COVID, not in the darkness,” he said in a recent interview. “Life goes on. Life has certainly changed, but it has not ended. There is still hope.”
There are currently 13 men in various stages of formation for the priesthood. Two additional seminarians are expected to arrive from Vietnam next year.
They come from nine different parishes across the archdiocese and attend colleges and seminaries in Indiana, Maryland, Ohio and Washington, D.C. Four men come from the Diocese of Vinh, Vietnam.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops designates the week of Nov. 1 to 7 as the National Vocation Awareness Week. The annual celebration aims to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life “through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations,” according to the USCCB website.
Despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the young men are easing back into seminary life, said Father Chandler.
“They’ve adjusted very well. I think the workload is a little heavier this semester in order to get as much in as they can before winter break,” he said.
Most of the seminaries will wrap up studies by December. The seminarians will return home and spend time at Flaget Center where they will complete their final papers and exams, as well as spend time together in community and prayer.
“We are praying for their continued safety as well as for their vocations,” he said.
Father Chandler said he tells the seminarians they are “pursuing a vocation of joy.”
“It’s time to pursue a vocation filled with joy, not with drudgery,” he said.
In his own life, Father Chandler said, he finds joy in his vocation because “I know I’m doing what God wants me to do.”
“I’m following God’s will and he continues to bless the work I do,” he said.
Benedictine Sister Sarah Yungwirth, associate director of the Vocations Office, urged Catholics to pray for vocations.
“If you notice something in someone, say something. To encourage even one young person even if they seem resistant at first, you are still putting a bug in their ear,” she said.