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​Welcome to the website for the Office of Priestly Vocations of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI. This year twenty-five men from our diocese will be in seminary formation programs in preparation for ordination, seven of whom are new to formation. Thirteen of these men are at St. John Vianney College Seminary and twelve are at USML/Mundelein Seminary.

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Soul Doctors – Priests share in Christ’s healing work

What do the woman caught in adultery, St. Peter and Bartimaeus the blind man all have in common?

  • THE WOMAN CAUGHT IN SIN: “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. … Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you.
    Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.’” (Jn 8:4,10-11)
  • ST. PETER: “But Peter said, ‘My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.’ Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord … ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’
    He went out and began to weep bitterly.” (Lk 22:60-62)
  • BARTIMAEUS “kept calling out all the more, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ … Jesus said to him in reply, ‘What
    do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man replied
    to him, ‘Master, I want to see.’” (Mk 10: 48, 51)

All of them show us that each of us needs God’s healing love and grace. In other words, all of us need a Savior. In the woman caught in adultery, we can see our own sinfulness and our own experience of shame. In St. Peter, we can see how even as we try to follow Jesus every day, sometimes we fail, and we fail miserably. In Bartimaeus, we recognize that, “Yes, we are sinners in a dysfunctional family of sinners; [and] no, we are not capable of saving ourselves.” But there is in all of us – almost despite ourselves – a sense of what we would look like ‘fully alive.’” (And Now I See, Bishop Robert Barron) We know that what we need to be healed and restored is a Savior. We need a divine physician. We need Jesus.

Those who are called to holy orders share in Christ’s healing work in our world. As priests, we were called to be ministers, to be soul doctors, working along with Christ and for Christ, to bring healing.

The healing always comes from Jesus. As a priest, it is powerful to witness this healing grace firsthand. I have seen it in the confessional when someone, just like the woman caught in adultery, is freed from their shame and transformed by those loving words, “The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.” I have seen God’s healing grace from a person, emotional with tears, who shared with me after Mass, “Father, I just had the most powerful experience of God’s love at Mass today.” I have seen God’s healing grace in the family that has lost a son at far too young of an age, and yet, they know that God is comforting them and healing their broken hearts.

God’s grace brings love that transforms, renews and heals. Priests are meant to be ministers of that grace. Priests are called to imitate the divine physician, to respond to the Bartimaeuses of the world who show up to the church with that simple request, “I want to see.”  And the Lord Jesus does the rest, “Go, your faith has saved you.”

God’s grace brings love that transforms, renews and heals.”

In Christ’s Friendship,

Fr. Stephen

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