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By Father Roger J. Landry, Integrated Catholic Life, March 26, 2020
Father Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, who works for the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations. He is the former pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River, Massachusetts and St. Anthony of Padua Parish in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Two weeks ago I had the joy to preach the annual five-day retreat for Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where 25 years ago this year I began my formation for the priesthood. It was an opportunity to express my thanks to the 150 men preparing there for the priesthood there for their courageous witness in faithfully following God’s call and to encourage them to persevere.
This article originally appeared in The Anchor, the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass, on January 25, 2019 and appears here with the kind permission of the author.
Since the 1960s, to follow a priestly vocation is to be not only a sign of contradiction but an object of derision. While some support you, many oppose, often including family members and fellow Catholics. When I told peers in high school and college I was considering the priesthood, many retorted with jokes wondering whether I was gay. Today, after the revelation of the sexual abuse scandals, many are greeted with snide questions about whether they “like little boys.” Seminarians today have the faith and guts to suffer such indignities for Christ.
But at the same time greater courage still is needed. We’re living at a time when one of the big issues in priestly (and episcopal) leadership is conflict aversion. Pastoral problems are often ducked rather than addressed. Neuralgic and unpopular teachings are neglected rather than named. Not hurting another’s feelings or offending another’s sensibilities, rather than charity in truth, is the operative moral praxis. ….