Just under 20 years ago, St. John Paul II completed his sixth visit to the United States, passing through New York, New Jersey, and Baltimore. The grounds of the seminary were flooded with thousands of people, and the Mass in Central Park was packed.
But even after the clamor and activity faded, Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York, noticed another trend. Twenty young men who had attended the rally at the seminary returned a few weeks later, to think more seriously about the priesthood. Several months later, fifteen more had inquired. Having decades of experience as a Priest, Cardinal O’Connor was not pollyannish over such inquiries. While rejoicing in such developments, he also sought to ground these men (and others responding to the Pope’s call) in service to God and His Church, rather than simply their own self fulfillment. He writes:
“The priesthood is a tough business–not grim, not gloomy, not a life for perpetual handwringers, but tough. I don’t know anybody who has more laughs than priests, or more love. But to pick up a cross and follow Christ is not for the fainthearted or the ambiguous. We need men who can handle the temptations of this pressure cooker culture without wilting. Souls need salvation, not scandal. Nobody who has to ask ‘what’s in it for me’ to become a priest should even consider applying…”
Ten years later, John Paul II was interred with 3 bags of coins, each containing 26 (for each year he had served as Pontiff). It served as both his entire compensation as Pope, and his severance package, but it had not been sought by him, nor did he need it. Instead, he received the One that is necessary.
St. John Paul II, pray for us!
Br. Leo Camurati entered the Order of Preachers in 2011. He is a graduate of Cooper Union in New York, where he studied Mechanical Engineering. Prior to entering the Order, he worked to administer an Engineering Standards Committee. He is a contributor to Dominicana Blog of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph
(Source: Catholic New York, November 16, 1995)