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The Deacon's Bench

This story has been floating around for a bit — the National Catholic Register published it back in July — but it’s getting a second life in the blogosphere, earning a mention here and here. It’s truly astounding:

Occasionally, one hears of a parish that has a man in seminary — but 15 from one parish?

Priestly and religious vocations have become commonplace at Christ the King in Ann Arbor, Mich., since its inception 25 years ago. Father Ed Fride, pastor, estimated that 15-20 men from the parish have become priests — men who either grew up in the parish, became members while attending the University of Michigan, or who were affiliated with the church when they discerned their call.

Six of 23 seminarians this year studying for the Diocese of Lansing, Mich., were from Christ the King. Of the other five seminarians from the parish, two are in the neighboring diocese of Saginaw, Mich., one in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and two in religious orders.
Christ the King also is the home of the 15 sisters who make up the Servants of God’s Love, half of whom came from the parish. Six other women from Christ the King have joined religious life in the past five years, two with the Servants of God’s Love, and four with other orders. The parish also has five permanent deacons, three candidates and several more in formation.

Why such a number of vocations from a parish of 830 families? Father Fride has his theories.

“The spirituality of the parish, in which a personal relationship with Jesus is continually stressed, is key,” he said. “We began as, and still are, part of the charismatic renewal, again where a living, active relationship with Jesus is encouraged.

“In addition, since beginning perpetual adoration five years ago when we finished our church building, almost all of the present seminarians, and those to begin this fall, have heard the call to seminary,” Father Fride said. “Jesus has a plan for everyone, whether to marriage, religious life or celibacy, and I address that, but it is proximity to the Lord Jesus during adoration that helps people hear the call.

“Also, we can’t overlook the influence of John Paul the Great,” he continued. “We constantly reference him, his teachings and the example of his life. He was the only pope that these kids knew, and they want to be like him. They want to participate in the New Evangelization, and becoming a priest is a great way to do that.

Said Father Fride: “When you preach orthodoxy, the Eucharist and the centrality of Jesus, vocations result. It seems natural to me to have so many young people who love Jesus and want to serve him become priests. I’m surprised there aren’t more vocations, both here and elsewhere.”

If you read on, you’ll hear from some of the families who are producing this floodtide of vocations. Bless ’em. Each and every one.

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