It’s a Wonderful Life!

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Welcome to Nonna’s kitchen where good food, good stories and an Italian Catholic grandmother’s straight from the heart advice are available free of charge to all who wander in, especially her grandson, Vinny.  It was in Nonna’s kitchen that Vincent was fed physically, emotionally and spiritually.  His Nonna was NOT COLLEGE EDUCATED, did not possess fancy diplomas or certificates, but gave sound and practical advice to Vinny about God, the Church and life in general.  Coffee with Nonna: Stories of my Catholic Grandmother by Vincent Iezzi is a heartwarming collection of short stories about a young boy and his special relationship with his grandmother.  Each short story teaches an important life lesson. Vinny’s Nonna could be characterized as a shepherd figure, as it was she who guided and nurtured him as a young boy during World War II.

This Fourth Sunday of Easter the Church celebrates GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY.  In our Gospel reading this weekend, Jesus refers to himself as the GOOD SHEPHERD.  Jesus uses the image of a shepherd to show how he guides, and protects us the sheep.  Of course this is all figurative but it is an important reminder to us of Jesus’ deep care and concern for us, his flock.  Promoting vocations to the priesthood is a task that must be done year round; but this Sunday is an especially good time to promote vocations.

I hope all of us can recall at least one person who has been a shepherd to us, perhaps a parent, grandparent or other family member.  Maybe it was a good friend, mentor or coach that served us in this capacity.  Conversely, perhaps we have served as a shepherd to guide, instruct, nourish and protect others.

The Church has provided shepherds in the form of ordained clergy to guide and instruct her members.  Priests, in a special and unique way, serve as shepherds to God’s holy people, especially in the celebration of the sacraments, but they also teach, guide and instruct the faithful in matters of faith and morals.  It is no small accident that priests are also referred to as Pastors, whether it is in the formal role as Pastor of a Parish, or simply as Associate Pastor, chaplain or teacher.

The Catholic Church can always use more priests, but they do not come out of the sky!  Young men need to be encouraged to consider this as a life choice.  Many young men simply need an invitation or words of encouragement to consider this calling.  As for me, I wanted to be a priest from a very young age, but it took me a while to discern and be absolutely certain this calling was from God, and was for me.  It’s a life where no two days are the same!  It’s a life where a man who is a priest can walk in to a family or person’s circumstances as a mere stranger, but walk out as family!  It’s a life of adventure and fun, but also courage and challenge; it’s a life unlike any other!  A priest steps into another’s life in persona Christi (in the person of Christ)NO OTHER PROFESSION ON EARTH CAN SAY THIS.

A priest, by virtue of his ordination, has the power to call down the Holy Spirit on mere bread and wine and transform these simple elements of the earth into the Body and Blood of Christ.  A priest has the power to forgive sins, and help people achieve entrance into heaven.  When an individual is dying it is the priest who prepares the soul to depart this world AND MEET GOD FACE TO FACE!

Pray that young men might consider so worthy and noble a calling which is a sublime gift from God.  Encourage those you might think have the attributes to be priests.  A candidate simply needs average intelligence, psychological stability and of course, a love for Jesus Christ and His Church.  If any young man has questions or wants to know more about this marvelous vocation, please feel free to call or email me.  I would be only too happy to talk to you about this!  May Christ the Good Shepherd and High Priest send many laborers into His vineyard, for the laborers are few and the harvest is plentiful!


Fr. Kevin’s letter appears each week in print and online in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin.

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