While it can seem rare,* the press sometimes does a good job covering religion and the religious experience. The Fort Myers News-Press has published a nice multimedia piece (article, video, photos) that features Ave Maria pastor Father Cory Mayer (who is also the vocation director for the Diocese of Venice), Ave Maria University director of campus ministry Father Robert Garrity, and a recent graduate of AMU. The piece highlights two men discerning a call to ordination as priests, including a surprise ending. Hats off to reporter Dave Breitenstein who can be reached at email@example.com.
The piece is part of a three part series about Catholic priests in the Diocese of Venice. Excerpts from each one are below:
Janus felt the Lord was calling him. “This call is not about me, my strengths, my weaknesses or my abilities,” he said. “I recognized He is the one who calls and helps me answer that call. He has asked me to be faithful and follow Him.” God asked Janus to consider being a priest. A priest. This from the teenager who watched ESPN for hours on end and was content playing video games all day. “I pretty much sought my happiness in football and girls, and everything else around me,” said Janus.
To date, Ave Maria has sent about 20 graduates to the seminary, according to Julie Cosden, vice president for student affairs. Others have entered the convent, teach in Catholic schools and pursue occupations in which Christianity is a guiding principle. “There is an environment here where they think more about a vocation than a job,” Cosden said. “All of us recognize a call to religious life, the priesthood, is a tough life. They are going to be sacrificing a lot.”
“I’m comfortable with the numbers, but I’m always interested in talking to young men who might be interested in the priesthood,” Dewane said. Since 2010, the Venice diocese has ordained 14 priests while losing five to retirement or death, a net gain of nine. The diocese has 17 seminarians in the pipeline. Every parish in Southwest Florida has a resident priest, Dewane said, in addition to parochial vicars that serve as assistants. Dewane’s focus isn’t covering next Sunday’s Mass; he is charged with building the next generation of religious leaders. “We’re blessed right now, but we always have to look at where are we in, say, 25 years or 50 years out,” Dewane said.
* The Get Religion blog is devoted to highlighting and remedying that problem.