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New priests follow many paths to answering call to serve God’s people



WASHINGTON — After almost 12 years as an Episcopal priest, Deacon Jonathan Erdman entered into full communion with the Catholic Church along with his family in 2016 and a year later, he is becoming a Catholic priest.

He will be ordained a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter June 29.

This spring, 590 men entered the priesthood in dioceses throughout the United States, according to a report released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington. The report is based on an annual study that the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate conducted for the USCCB. Read more »

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‘Be Jesus for others’: Bishop Malooly’s homily at the ordination of Father Rich Jasper


The following is excerpted from the text of Bishop Malooly’s homily during the Ordination Mass of Father Jasper, May 20, at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington.


On behalf of the Church of Wilmington I want to begin by thanking Rich’s parents, Rick and Kathy, for bringing their son to life in Christ through baptism. Also, Brian, we are grateful for your support of your brother.

It is in baptism that the seeds of the priestly vocation are first planted. My dear parents, you are an important part of God’s mysterious call, and I want to recognize that from the start. Read more »

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An ordination journey nears its destination


Dialog Editor

When Rich Jasper recently traced the course of his life that lead to the priesthood, he said, “As you can see, the Lord writes straight with crooked lines.”

However, in an era when men are often ordained beyond their 20s, Jasper’s vocation path of ardently practicing his faith, teaching it to young people, and sharing it with parishioners and with the needy has had a clear route to the altar in retrospect.

Jasper, 42, will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wilmington by Bishop Malooly on May 20 at the Cathedral of St. Peter. Read more »

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Priesthood is never a job, it’s a calling, a vocation


Dialog Editor

Time was, young people could contemplate their future by thinking about a single job — blue collar, white collar or professional — and know they could depend on keeping it when they found it. Not anymore.

“I think young people today are so aware, they know that our society is not giving that option,” said Father Norman Carroll, director of the diocesan Office of Priestly and Religious Vocations. “They know, these days, that they will have multiple professions. They think about ‘what I want to do with the rest of my life,’ but our culture is not offering that.” Read more »

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Watch the video of Father Lance Martin’s ordination


Father Lance Martin was ordained to the priesthood on May 28, 2016 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington.

See the video here:

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‘A very happy day for the Diocese of Wilmington’ — Father Lance Martin ordained to the priesthood


WILMINGTON – Church bells tolled joyfully as a procession or priests and deacons began its way into the Cathedral of St. Peter May 28 for the ordination of Father Lance Martin.

“This is a very happy day for the Diocese of Wilmington. We rejoice,” Bishop Malooly told 33 priests, Father Martin’s fellow seminarians, and a congregation of about 200. The congregation included Father Martin’s parents and two siblings. Read more »

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Meet Father Lance Stirling Martin


Dialog Editor


Every priest’s vocation story is different; the diocese’s newest priest had a slow but confident journey


“I knew God was working in my life since I was a little kid,” said Lance Martin, 10 days before he was to be ordained the newest priest for the Diocese of Wilmington by Bishop Malooly.

Though he didn’t grow up a Catholic, he said, “I felt called to the Catholic Church in sixth grade. I used to walk by a church called Immaculate Conception that was between my house and my best friend’s. It was German gothic architecture, red sandstone. It had this weight about it and it had this white statue of the Blessed Mother.” Read more »

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Elkton native ordained to priesthood




FrMullanFather Peter Mullan, a native of Elkton, Md., was among 35 men ordained to the priesthood Dec. 13 in Rome for the Legionaries of Christ. Father Mullan told the Legionaries that he believes his vocation began during his unusual birth and baptism.

Born with a blockage in his intestines, he was flown from Elkton to Baltimore by helicopter for surgery.

“I still have that scar from that surgery across my stomach,” he said. “Before the operation my mother knew her catechism well enough to baptize me herself. So one day she gave birth to me, and the following day she gave birth to me spiritually. No time to lose for God.”

Father Mullan was ordained at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

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Sallies’ lesson plan on Jan. 27: Holy orders


Staff reporter

WILMINGTON —For Mike Vogt, the running stops Jan. 27.

That’s when, in front of the Salesianum School community of which he has been a part for the past two and a half years, Vogt will be ordained a priest of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, completing a process he began almost 36 years ago.

Vogt, 53, joined the Oblates right after he graduated from North Catholic High School in Philadelphia in 1976 and, for the next decade, he was in formation with them and with the Diocese of Allentown. Then, as his ordination approached, he had second thoughts.

Rev. Mr. Mike Vogt, who will be ordained an Oblate priest at Salesianum School on Jan. 27, distributes the Communion cup during a recent school Mass. (The Dialog/DonBlakePhotography.com)

“Basically, I got cold feet and left,” Vogt said recently at Salesianum, where he is part of the campus ministry team and a theology teacher.

“I had some doubts about myself and my own worthiness. I guess you could say a lot of it was rethinking, some confusion. There were some personal crises in my life, and I think I needed to take a step away and catch a breath.”

In the interim, Vogt had a bi-coastal odyssey. He taught high school in Philadelphia for seven years, then moved to California, where he did some acting in commercials and worked in sales for CBS. He also ran two sober-living facilities for men.

Vogt said he used a lot of what he had learned in teaching and in community life at the sober-living houses. In a way, he was practicing his vocation in California.

“As somebody used to say to me, ‘You took off the uniform but you never really got out of community,’ he said. “I still had a sense of mission and I think of service to the people of God, but was just confused.”

In 2003, a priest friend from Philadelphia told Vogt he was the pastor of twin parishes in West Philadelphia and that he could use some help, so Vogt returned to his hometown and became a pastoral associate, eventually moving into the rectory. There, the pastor asked Vogt why he kept avoiding the call.

“He said, ‘It’s time to stop running,’” Vogt said.


The ‘call’ lingered

The Oblates accepted Vogt, and although he had already met the academic requirements and been ordained a transitional deacon, he had to go through formation and make his vows again. He had changed, as had the Oblates and, to  some extent, the church, and both sides needed to know they were on the same page, Vogt said.

“I was never laicized, was never asked to, nor did I want to. Somebody told me I had the longest transitional diaconate in the history of the church,” he joked.

Throughout his life, he said, he knew something was missing. “No matter what I did, the call never went away. It was always on my shoulder.

“It was really good priests, brothers, nuns and my folks who were saying, ‘Maybe you didn’t make a mistake the first time. Maybe you were doubting yourself.’”

Oblate Father James Greenfield, the provincial, was the congregation’s vocations director when Vogt returned. They had known each other since 1979, when Father Greenfield joined the Oblates. He said the Oblates handled Vogt’s inquiry as they would any other and that they have no particular policy on the age of candidates.

“We did a review of what’s been happening over the years, we make sure the candidate’s been under spiritual direction and has been for at least the previous three years,” Father Greenfield said.

A gap of that many years is unusual, Father Greenfield said, but sometimes it takes a while to be certain.

“It’s a clear sign to really trust and believe in the slow work of the spirit. Sometimes we live in a world where we expect instant results, but vocation is something that happens day by day, we grow into it,” he said.

Vogt said he first felt the call at Holy Innocents School in Philadelphia, where he was an altar boy and would find himself drawn to the church, where he would sit in the back “and feel at home.” He liked the sense of mystery he felt.

He met the Oblates at North Catholic and was attracted to the brotherhood he saw among them. No matter what they did at the school — teaching, administration, staff the bookstore — they were happy.

“They truly believed you could live Jesus and follow the Lord now, and that was just as dynamic as following him in 33 A.D. in Nazareth,” he said.

Theologically speaking, his philosophy fits well with the teachings of St. Francis de Sales.

“De Sales believed in practical holiness, that it was not having to go into a monastery, that we’re called to be the best of who we are according to the Gospel of where we’re at, and to follow that. Francis was imminently practical and down to earth, and that’s what struck me about the Oblates,” he said.


Students part of journey

He is enjoying his campus ministry work and teaching theology at Salesianum, where the students just call him “Rev.” He wasn’t a reverend, and he wasn’t a mister. They were at a loss as to what to call him.

At Sallies, he leads retreats, such as one for the sophomore class recently in Camden, N.J., where they worked in a soup kitchen, helped the homeless and straightened up a park for neighborhood children. He is also involved in liturgy preparation and penance services, although until now he has not been able to hear their confessions. He is looking forward to saying Mass at the school and in nearby parishes.

In his free time, Vogt likes to take walks, see movies and “get lost” in bookstores.

He is also a familiar face at Salesianum athletic events and likes to be present in the students’ lives. He tells them all the time that they are part of his journey.

“They get to see someone, regardless of age, who’s in formation, who’s growing with them, who’s not arrived, who’s studying, who’s learning what priesthood and what religious life is all about,” he said.


Ordinations are usually in church


When Rev. Mr. Vogt is ordained to the priesthood on Jan. 27, it will mark a first for the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, Salesianum School and Bishop Malooly.

Instead of the Cathedral of St. Peter, where most diocesan priests are ordained, or St. Anthony of Padua Church, where the Oblates have held ordinations in the past, Vogt will complete his journey to the priesthood at Salesianum School, in front of the students, faculty and staff with whom he has spent the last two and a half years.

Because the students have been such a big part of Vogt’s life the last three years, the Oblates wanted to find a way to have them at the ordination. They talked about transporting students to one of the local churches, but decided, with Bishop Malooly’s permission, to hold the ordination in the school gymnasium.

“The idea was that this has been where I minister, and the transporting of the entire student body and faculty to one of those places would be a major problem,” he said.

He added that he is sure there are a few vocations among the student body, and if they see an ordination, perhaps someone else will realize he has a call. His parents, Albert and Mary, will be there, as will younger brothers Larry and Greg and their families.

Bishop Malooly said the suggestion came from the Oblates and he has no problem with the arrangement. Most students do not have an opportunity to witness an ordination, and this is a way to encourage vocations.

“Usually you would prefer to celebrate it in a church, but I was delighted to do it this way. And he’s part of the faculty there, so it will be very meaningful for them,” said the bishop, who will be doing an ordination outside a church for the first time.

“I love doing ordinations. Any time you ordain a priest, it’s most meaningful,” he said.

Oblate Father James Greenfield, the provincial, believes this is the first priestly ordination at Salesianum, although he was ordained a deacon in the school’s former chapel.

As unlikely as the gymnasium seems for an ordination, Vogt said it is appropriate. Students will be sitting across from each other and God is found in each other.

“The bottom line was, I don’t care what building it is as long as the people of God to whom I am going to serve are there. Buildings are wonderful, but the church is more than a building. It’s the people of God,” he said.


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