‘Truly been an honor’
Outgoing vocations director says today’s seminarians give him ‘hope’ for Church’s future
BY FR. JASON MCCLURE, OFFICE OF VOCATIONS
It has been a privilege to serve the Church for the past eight years as Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Owensboro. The ultimate role of the vocations director is to work with the diocesan bishop to secure a presbyterate for the future of the diocese. Additionally, the vocation director’s role includes helping men discern their vocation and encouraging every Catholic man to at least think about priesthood. In an increasingly secular culture, discerning a vocation becomes more challenging and so therefore also the task of vocation ministry. Nonetheless, I have always found that challenge to be an exciting one, especially as I encounter men of tremendous and inspiring faith, who sincerely want to give their lives to Jesus.
As I prepare to transition into a new assignment, I have many great memories of my time as vocations director. Chief among them have been the times when we have been blessed to celebrate the ordinations of men to the transitional diaconate and to the holy priesthood. These celebrations are of such great importance for the men who are being ordained and their families but also for the whole Church. Testifying on behalf of the many people who have been involved in and responsible for their formation, has truly been an honor.
During these eight years, we have attempted many strategies for promoting vocations to the priesthood. Some have proven successful. Others, not so much. One accomplishment for which I am very thankful is the relationship established between the Diocese of Owensboro and the Diocese of Hakha, in Myanmar. As a result of this relationship, the Diocese of Owensboro has been blessed by two seminarians from the Hakha diocese, who by the generosity of their bishop, have been given permission to enter into seminary formation with us. Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than was ordained in 2020 and by the grace of God, Deacon Martin Ma Na Ling will be ordained to the priesthood in 2022. This is a response to the growing Burmese community in our diocese. It is my hope that this relationship between our two dioceses will continue into the future.
As Fr. Daniel Dillard prepares to assume the role of vocations director, I have told him that he will have some great seminarians with whom to work. Our current seminarians are good and faithful men, who have a sincere desire to serve the Lord, wherever that might be. They are courageous and their decision to enter into seminary formation at a time when doing so is seemingly more challenging than when I did about 24 years ago, gives me hope for the future of our Church.
Vocation ministry is crucial in the life of our Church. As I once heard it said, the world needs priests because the world needs the Eucharist. Please pray for Fr. Daniel as he prepares to assume this very important ministry in our Church. Although my time as vocations director will soon end, my hope and prayer is that by God’s grace, my love for the priesthood might inspire men to consider this vocation as a calling worthy of their discernment.
Effective June 8, 2021, Fr. Jason McClure will begin his role as chaplain and director of the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, as well as ministering to Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp and Retreat Center, while continuing as Vicar for Clergy.
Originally printed in the May 2021 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.