Bishop Battersby's Vocation Story


November 2nd, 2021

1 hr 5 mins 21 secs

Season 1

Your Hosts

About this Episode

(0:45) Fr. Craig introduces the latest guest, Bishop Gerard Battersby, alongside his co-host Fr. David. Auxiliary Bishop Battersby shares a blessing with a recent Families of Parishes Commissioning Ceremony while Fr. David talks about his new appointment as the note-taker for the Presbyteral Council.
(8:45) Fr. David talks about how he remembers in seminary when Fr. Battersby received the call to become a bishop and the motto he chose for his episcopacy. Bishop Battersby shares that his motto “In Sinu Patris” (That we live in the bosom of the Father and the Father’s embrace) comes from the Gospel of St. John and the writings of Blessed Columba Marmion.

(10:15) Fr. David shares that during his priestly ordination he gave out cards with an image of El Greco’s depiction of the Trinity and how it relates to Bishop Battersby’s episcopal motto. And Fr. Craig explains that he quoted Psalm 31 on his ordination card.

(11:55) Bishop Battersby shares his vocation story including the fact that his uncle was a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit and how his passing deeply affected him. He reflects that while studying abroad in Ireland at the age of 19, he had an illumination at a youth hostel in Scotland that he was going to be a priest. However, despite how clear the call was at the time, he struggled with it for the next 14 years.

(15:30) Bishop Battersby explains how he drew closer to the Lord in prayer, particularly during Mass, and learning about Him, he began to fall more deeply in love with Him. The idea of priesthood kept returning despite his best efforts to pursue other things and cast it from his heart. He even bargained with God telling Him he would do anything so long as he could get married and have a family.
(17:16) His Excellency recounts that one day before class at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, he visited the chapel and was in anguish over the fact he knew the Lord wanted him to be a priest and that he didn’t want it. He remembers later telling God that he loved Him but couldn’t be a priest, and the Lord responding to him literary, “You don’t have to.” Shocked and delighted, Bishop Battersby exclaims the beauty of hearing the Lord’s voice and the love contained in Him.

(20:00) Bishop Battersby explains the change that occurred in him and the freedom he experienced after hearing God’s voice whether in fact he was called to be a priest or not. Acknowledging that his call to the priesthood may sound like an anti-vocation story, he emphasizes that the Lord desires us to be free to love Him and say yes to following His will for our lives.

(25:30) Fr. Craig responds to Bishop Battersby that his story is not unique amongst men discerning a call to the priesthood. He describes that God calls us to our vocation out of love because He is love, which Bishop Battersby quips is not just a slogan. Fr. Craig then asks His Excellency follow-up questions based on his story. Bishop Battersby recounts that after returning from Ireland, he contacted the seminary and met with Fr. Don Archambault, the pre-formation director, at the time on several occasions to explore the idea of becoming a priest.
(28:50) Bishop Battersby mentions that one day Fr. Archambault sent him to meet with a parish priest to learn more about the priesthood. However, that meeting with that priest only confirmed, at the time, that he didn’t want to live an unhappy life. He continues that despite a successful career and a nice house and cars, he wasn’t happy. Bishop Battersby emphasizes that we want love and to be fulfilled in love, which answers our deepest needs.

(32:15) Fr. Craig asks follow-up questions on the rest of his vocation story, and His Excellency returns to his experience of hearing the Lord’s voice in the chapel at the seminary. He describes that within six weeks, he applied to the seminary, and later received confirmations during his time there that the Lord was calling him to the priesthood. Fr. Craig talks about a confirmation he experienced on his diaconate retreat that God was in fact calling him to the priesthood.

(37:20) Bishop Battersby discusses how he confused his desire with God’s will and the seminary helped him to separate the two, focusing on the Lord’s desire for him. Fr. David explains that when he entered seminary, he wasn’t ready to become a priest but after much discernment and prayer he received confirmation of that call. He asks Bishop Battersby about his experience in seminary, which he describes as a joy since it deepened his relationship with God. And he describes two success stories later as a formatter at the seminary of men who both discerned well, either becoming priests or not.
(40:21) Fr. Craig recounts the difficulty experienced by men who put off discerning their vocation until later in life but affirms that God can still work in those situations. However, he argues that men should act on discernment and if you feel a call, attend the Discernment Group, Discernment Weekend, talk to your pastor, and talk to him. Fr. David mentions that the principle formator is the Holy Spirit and distinguishes between the formator in seminary and a spiritual director. Bishop Battersby affirms that and defines the role of the formator in relation to the Church and the individual man.
(45:40) Fr. Craig asks Bishop Battersby about his assignments following ordination, which included several parochial assignments in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Afterwards, His Excellency recounts his transition to the seminary as the Director of Pastoral Formation, which Fr. Pullis, a former guest on the Podcast, occupies now and then as the Director of Graduate Theology. Then, Bishop Battersby recounts going to Rome for further studies where he also studied Blessed Columba Marmion.

(49:18) Bishop Battersby discusses his next role as Vice Rector working with the seminarians and the priests in charge of formation. He recounts next when he received the call from the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, appointing him as an auxiliary bishop of Detroit. Fr. Craig asks him about the process of preparing for his episcopal ordination.

(53:20) Bishop Battersby recounts the struggle of keeping his appointment a secret for eight days. He emphasizes that remaining faithful to the Lord for His graces provides when he feels he isn’t qualified and weak. Fr. Craig asks His Excellency to discuss his duties as an auxiliary bishop, which he describes chiefly is to assist the archbishop in the pastoral care of the Archdiocese.

(57:20) As the regional moderator of the South Region, Bishop Battersby explains his day-to-day life, assisting parishes with Confirmations, all-school Masses, and other pastoral needs. He also offers some advice to young men to fall in love with Jesus in order to experience true freedom as the sons of God.

(1:04:05) Bishop Battersby concludes with the Hail Mary, and Fr. Craig thanks him and Fr. David.