One of the diocese’s new seminarians visited the Rhode Island Catholic offices recently to have his official photo taken. He chatted amiably with us for several minutes before getting up to return to the seminary. Before leaving, he asked us to please pray for him.
At first glance, the uninitiated might scratch their heads quizzically at such a request. Why would a bright young man who seemingly has fully contemplated the calling he has received and taken decisive action to begin his formation for the priesthood request prayers from a layperson? On the contrary, shouldn’t the layperson be seeking intercession from the pious man on the road to the priesthood?
Actually, we are all in need of prayer, even the pope. During his whirlwind visit to the United States in 2015, Pope Francis implored the faithful with a familiar refrain during his stops in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York: “I ask you to pray for me. Don’t forget!” Father Claudio Burgaleta, associate professor of theology at Forham University’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education described in a Religion News Service article at the time that the need for prayer among human beings as symbiotic, as we are all embarking together on a “Pilgrim Journey,” in which we all walk and pray together.
This year, the Diocese of Providence welcomes eight new local seminarians to begin their formation at Our Lady of Providence Seminary — believed to be the largest group of new seminarians in 40 years — and all welcome, and need, prayers from the faithful as they embark on their pilgrimage. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin was joyed at meeting the new candidates for the priesthood recently, Tweeting: “Pray for our seminarians, including the new students. God said ‘I will give you shepherds,’ and indeed he is!” He described them as exceptional young men with diverse backgrounds and experiences, very strong candidates for the priesthood.
So please take a moment to offer your prayers to ensure a steady journey ahead for our new seminarians. Make your intentions known to the rector and vocations director at Our Lady of Providence Seminary so that they may convey your support to the candidates. The Catholic organization Serra Providence, which offers organized prayer for vocations and those pursuing a vocation through events such as a Holy Hour during World Day of Prayer for Priests, always welcomes new members as well.