After the joyful celebration of the ordination of three new priests this year, I find myself reflecting on the significance of the priesthood and the journey leading to it. As Nazareth Seminary expands to keep our seminarians close to home, I cannot help but marvel at the way God weaves together the threads of nature and nurture, of personal calling and communal support. 

Each priest’s journey has humble beginnings, the quiet moments of prayer, the nurturing guidance of family, parish, and community. They are the foundational elements that form every man, every priest. From the earliest days of our lives, our families instill in us the values of faith, love and service. The parish becomes a second home where we learn, grow and discover our place within the larger family of God. And the wider community shapes and molds us into the individuals we are meant to become. 

Seminary formation, while indispensable, is but one part of the preparation for priesthood. It provides the necessary theological and pastoral training, equipping us with the tools and knowledge to serve God and His people faithfully. However, it is our lived experiences, our interactions with others, our tending to our mental health and our ongoing journey of faith that truly refine and deepen our vocation. 

Whether it’s graduating from college or seminary, it can be tempting to believe that we have all the answers, that we are fully equipped to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

Yet, wisdom often comes not from scholarly pursuits alone but from a humble recognition of our own limitations and a willingness to learn from those we are called to serve. 

To the new priests embarking on this journey, and to all young people discerning their vocation, I offer this simple advice: remember your roots. Remember the love and sacrifice of your family, the guidance and support of your community, the prayers and blessings of your parish. For it is from these wellsprings of grace that your vocation flows, and it is to these sources that you must return time and again for sustenance and strength. 

Be open to the people you serve, listen attentively to their joys and sorrows, their hopes and fears. And never forget that you are not alone on this journey – you carry with you the prayers and blessings of countless souls, the communion of saints who have gone before you and the support of your brothers in the priesthood. 

As we celebrate the ordination of three new priests and look towards the future with hope and anticipation, let us never lose sight of the simple yet profound truth: that our vocation is not ours alone but a gift from God, nurtured and sustained by the love of family, parish, and community. 

John P. Dolan

Bishop of Phoenix