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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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Witnessing the work of the Holy Spirit

March 2024

by Father Stephen Durkee, Director of Priestly Vocations

 Witnessing the work of the Holy Spirit: Corey goes ‘all-in’ for God

One of the most exciting things about being a priest is watching people come alive in their faith. These moments are not particular to one area or experience. They may occur during the sacrament of confession or at one’s first Communion. They may come about as a result of hearing beautiful music at Mass or a powerful homily or talk. The Holy Spirit works in many ways to bring people into God’s family.

Sometimes, God even uses the love of sports to draw people into the Church. As many of you know, I am a die-hard Detroit Lions fan. At the time of writing this article, the Lions had won a playoff game, the first since 1992. To say that I was on cloud nine would be a huge understatement. A young man in my parish, Corey, also is a big sports fan. There’s just one problem — he’s a Chicago Bears fan. I’m working on his conversion.

Kidding aside, over the past two years, I have had the joy of watching this young husband and father come alive in his Catholic faith. During my first year at St. Pius X Parish, I assumed Corey was Catholic. Later, I learned that only his wife was Catholic.

This is not uncommon; there are many married couples in our parishes in which one spouse is Catholic and the other is not. And so, after Sunday Mass one day, I gave Corey a hug, encouraged him to have a great weekend and said, “Hey, by the way, I didn’t realize you weren’t Catholic.” He replied, “Yep, sorry, Father!” I said, “Well, we can fix that, you know.” With some hesitation, he said, “We’ll talk, Father.” As he walked away, I turned around and his wife, Nicole, was beaming. She said, “Thank you, Father!”

Over the next couple of months, we talked here and there, enjoyed some good-natured ribbing over one another’s sports teams and I tried to answer his questions about the Catholic faith. But there was no single formidable question that Corey had. He was a young father who worked odd hours, which made committing to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) a bit of a challenge. In the end, I said, “Look man, going to inquiry sessions in RCIA is not a commitment to become Catholic. It gives you a chance to ask questions that will help you decide.”

In the end, he decided to give it a shot.

Many questions arose during his process of inquiry. Corey discovered, though, the Church has answers to all his questions. Our faith is reasonable, believable and is rooted in what Christ preached and taught 2,000 years ago. Eventually, Corey decided to go “all in,” coming into full communion with the Church during Easter Vigil last year.

Today, I am grateful for Corey’s friendship, for our banter about professional sports, and, most importantly, grateful to witness all that God is doing in Corey’s life. He is now a sponsor for another young man in RCIA who shares a similar life experience. He also is a small group leader for our Alpha program, which is aimed at helping parishioners grow in Christian friendship. What’s exciting for me is to see him alive in his faith.

This is part of what makes priestly life so special: to be able to witness God’s amazing work and watch him change lives.

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