This episode of Men of the Hearts is full of priestly fraternity, two inspiring vocation stories, and encouragement against fears of inadequacy related to the priesthood. Join hosts Fr. Craig Giera and Fr. David Pellican as they welcome Fr. David’s fellow Divine Child Parish clergy, Fr. Bob McCabe and Fr. John Dudek. Each shares his own vocation story, how to overcome “analysis paralysis” and fears related to returning to school in seminary, and how gifts are never wasted in a priestly vocation. “God is calling us to expand our comfort zone.”
(00:31) Fr. Craig welcomes us to this episode. He reviews the previous episode with Fr. Tim Birney and insights into how to encourage priestly vocations. Fr. Craig then welcomes our episode’s guests, the clergy at Divine Child Parish in Dearborn: Fr. Bob McCabe, Fr. John Dudek and Fr. David Pellican. They discuss recent blessings including overcoming health concerns, winning a sports bet, as well as excitement for the priesthood. Fr. David shares that he is working on building an altar for the private chapel at the rectory.
(04:00) Fr. Bob is invited to share his vocation story with us. Fr. Bob is 68 years old and grew up in a Catholic family. In 10th grade, he wanted to be a movie director, but by his senior year in high school, he found an interest in photography. In college, Fr. Bob encountered a group that encouraged him to begin having a daily prayer life. Through living a sacramental life, Fr. Bob’s heart was opened to becoming a priest. During this time he experienced “analysis paralysis.” He spent many years considering the priesthood. One misconception he had was that he thought he needed to be 100 percent certain that he was supposed to be a priest before entering the seminary.
(15:36) Do we lose our gifts when we enter the priesthood? Fr. Bob highlights how he was able to use his photography skills as a priest, which included a 5-year project capturing photos of Detroit’s homeless. Taking portraits of persons facing homelessness is something that brings him fulfillment. It is an expression of how Fr. Bob sees each person as unique – and everyone has their own story.
(20:10) Fr. John Dudek shares his own experience of how God brought him to the priesthood. In high school, Fr. John’s discussions with his chaplain lead him to enter seminary after high school. Following his departure from seminary, Fr. John got married and had two daughters. Afterwards, he received a degree in elementary education with a specialty in cognitive impairments and worked in special education for twenty-six years. After an annulment, Fr. John saw a “flame” in his heart for the priesthood. Through serving others and encountering a deacon, Fr. John felt the Lord calling him to enter the seminary after a 30-year gap in his seminary studies.
(29:55) He mentions attending Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Boston, which was founded to serve men, 35-60 years old, who are discerning the priesthood. A nine-week program at the Institute for Priestly Formation helped Fr. John in his discernment. At times, he felt daunted by entering back into the classroom for his seminary studies. But he felt supported in his classes. “If God is calling you to be a priest, we’ll make it happen.” The community of support in the seminary exists to help seminarians discern God’s will and work through the necessary education.
(39:00) The priests discuss the experience of living in a rectory together. They have recently started watching The Chosen. Fr. Bob describes the show as “life transforming, utterly brilliant.” The Divine Child rectory has four priests and they feel they are “stepping back in time” because of the community life they share. “There is so much gained by sharing rectory life. We pray together, we eat together.” Fr. Bob shares that he feels blessed to live with his fellow priests, grow, and minister together with them.
(45:45) “The Ministry of Presence” is a way of life for the priests; they desire to be available to their parishioners and students. They find delight in encountering their flock and being accessible shepherds. “It’s beautiful to build relationships.” They desire to be approachable and down to earth so that their spiritual children feel they can have a friendship with their priests. Both Fr. David and Fr. John detail different roles that they have taken on at Divine Child utilizing their unique gifts and talents with the students in the classroom. And Fr. Bob, Fr. John, and Fr. David discuss what liturgies they will be responsible for during Holy Week and the Triduum.
(55:12) What advice would you give to a man considering the priesthood? “Always keep your heart open. Stay true to what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking. Going into the priesthood is a process. If you’re true to the process and if you stay focused, you’re know whether or not God is calling you to be a priest” is Fr. John’s advice. Fr. Bob says, “Don’t think you’re too old; don’t be afraid. A life of service to others is so fulfilling… and it also keeps you young.” Fr. Bob encourages men, “don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re not holy enough or not smart enough, or too nervous to speak in front of people.. You’re invited to participate in the priesthood of Jesus Christ… that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. God is calling us to expand our comfort zone.” Fr. Bob used to be very nervous about public speaking but has learned to experience it as a fulfilling form of service.
(59:07) “If you’ve ever thought about becoming a priest, give Fr. Craig a call” quips Fr. John. And Fr. Bob concludes “let that discernment unfold because God has a unique and unrepeatable vocation for each and every one of us. And we do well to search that out.” The episode is closed in prayer by Fr. Bob. And Fr. Craig thanks both Fr. Bob and Fr. John for being on the podcast.
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