Though few are willing to talk about it, the Church is experiencing a great famine of vocations. Last year in the United States, 38 dioceses ordained zero men to the priesthood. In the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, however, there is hope—and you are part of it. I did not cease giving thanks for you and remembering you in my prayers when ten of our men were ordained priests this May at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Jesus Christ was born an infant Who needed to be fed. Just as the people of Egypt sought food from the Old Testament Joseph, the guardian of Pharaoh’s household, so Jesus goes to St. Joseph, whom God set over His own household, to receive the necessities of earthly life. During the rite of ordination, the phrase “alter Christus” is used to remind us that the priest acts as “another Christ” by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders. By providing for these men during their years of preparation, you acted as an alter Josephus, another St. Joseph.
The friars you have helped form will go out to preach for the salvation of souls and the renewal of the culture. As chaplains, lecturers, and itinerant preachers, we have a presence at 75 universities across America. Another 40 schools have extended invitations. Our men have been called to Rome to train the seminarians who will become America’s next generation of diocesan priests: they teach liturgy and preaching at the North American College, and Theology and Philosophy at the Angelicum.
This momentum is a gift from God, and we want to steward it well. That is why, like Joseph in Egypt, we are preparing for periods of uncertainty by building a student brother scholarship fund composed of bequests from generous donors.
At present, the fund is large enough to cover seven brothers per year, but, with over 50 men in formation and another 12 entering the novitiate in August, our long-term goal is to provide at least 25 scholarships.
As I conclude my ten-year term as Executive Director of the Dominican Friars Foundation, I thank you for being “another Joseph” to our priests. If you have not yet considered a gift in your will to the Dominican Friars, I invite you to do so by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
As another friar takes the helm of the Foundation, I will begin serving as National Chaplain for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), which trains young adults to share the Gospel on hundreds of college campuses across the country and abroad.
May God continue to bless you and your loved ones through the prayers of the Blessed Mother and all the Dominican saints.
Father Gabriel Gillen, O.P.
Dominican Friars Foundation