William E. Koenig, the soon-to-be 10th bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, sat down for a question-and-answer session with Joseph P. Owens, editor of The Dialog. The full Q&A appears in “Welcome Our Shepherd” the 72-page special section included with the July 16 edition of The Dialog. An excerpt of that conversation is below.
Q: Bishop Malooly ordained Father Michael Preston in May. It was a joyous event. It also was our first priestly ordination in four years. We also had ordination of a transitional deacon and appear poised to have a line of seminarians beyond that. Still, we have a great need for vocations. You have a significant background as a vocations director. What can you bring to that effort? And how do we as a church help support men to follow through on the path to priesthood?
A: It’s multifaceted. As a vocation director, personal invitation or recognition of qualities or gifts that a person might have that would lead one to believe that this person might have what is needed to be a good priest. It’s an important thing to recognize the person.
So whether it’s a parent or a relative or just another parishioner, just the opportunity to say to this person, ‘You’d make a good priest.’ That could be a seed which is planted in that person, and perhaps nothing will happen, but the chances are that person will not be insulted by a comment like that.
Just planting a seed or recognizing that is one way of even beginning the support. I think prayer is an important ingredient to support vocations.
Some seminaries have a Holy Hour maybe once a month for vocations where people would pray specifically for people to answer the call.
Once a person is discerning, I think bringing those discernors together to try to support one another and to strengthen one another in listening to God’s call is an important thing. That’s more of the formal work of a vocation director. And then trying to get the best of seminary formation to the person would be essential.