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The harvest is plentiful

November 12, 2017
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

I began my observance of All Saints Day recently by celebrating Mass for All Saints Catholic School in Norman. To be honest, I wouldn’t miss it! Each year, the fourth-grade students at All Saints prepare to observe their patronal feast by choosing a saint, learning about that saint and dressing like that saint for Mass.

The liturgical procession is something to behold! As you might imagine there were saints from every walk of life: there were bishops such as Saint Augustine; there were priests such as Blessed Stanley Rother; there were religious sisters such as Saint Therese of Lisieux and even a deacon (Saint Francis of Assisi). There were married persons (Mary and Joseph) and single persons (Saint Juan Diego). There were saints who served the poor such as Saint Teresa of Calcutta; and those who dedicated themselves to education such as Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

It was a wonderful opportunity to teach the students and remind the rest of us that we are all called to become saints. The saints come from every nation and culture, from all periods of history and every walk of life.

An important part of our response to God’s call to holiness is the careful discernment of our own vocation. Within our call to holiness is a personal vocation to discipleship shaped by the traditional patterns of the Christian life: marriage, consecrated life or ordained ministry. Sometimes we find ourselves living out our baptismal call to holiness as single persons or as widows.

We are just concluding the annual observance of National Vocation Awareness Week, which is held the first full week of November. This annual observance is a time for the whole Catholic community to recognize the importance of each vocation in the life of the Church.

As All Saints Day reminds us, the Church is enriched by a great variety of vocations and all of them can lead us to holiness. It is important for all of us, beginning in our homes and parishes, to foster a culture in which each vocation is valued. Parents, pastors and catechists obviously have an important role in encouraging and guiding young people in responding generously to God’s call in their lives. But, all of us have a part to play.

A few weeks ago, I celebrated the annual Marriage Anniversary Mass, honoring couples who have been married 25, 40, 50 or more years. It’s a way to affirm the importance of sacramental marriage in the life of the Church. Marriage is a holy vocation.

On Nov. 3, I had the privilege of ordaining 22 men to the permanent diaconate. They and their wives had completed a four-year formation process. These men are now ordained for ministry in parishes across the archdiocese. They have benefited by the encouragement of their families and parishes throughout this process. I thank God for our deacons!

This year, we are richly blessed to have 18 young men in seminary at various stages of formation. God willing, these are our future priests. They will be our pastors and confessors. They will witness your weddings and bring the sacraments of healing when you are ill or infirm. They will accompany you along the journey of your lives from womb to tomb. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord is calling many more young men to hear and respond to his call to priesthood.

I am confident that the heroic witness of Blessed Stanley Rother will be a great encouragement to young men who are looking for a meaningful life of service to God and to others. Our seminarians need our support, just as those whom God is calling to seminary need our encouragement.

The harvest is plentiful! It is clear to me how richly God is blessing our archdiocese. Please join me in encouraging more laborers to help gather God’s harvest.

Our annual Seminarian Appeal will be coming your way very soon. Please remember to pray for our seminarians. Please look around and encourage other young men whom the Lord may be calling to serve as his priests and co-workers in gathering the harvest!

Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and financial support of our seminarians. Blessed Stanley Rother, pray for us!