‘The Priesthood: Offering Hope and Healing’

Father Scott Pogatchnik is vocation director for the Diocese of Saint Cloud. He also serves a rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral and pastor of St. Augustine Parish in St. Cloud.

For this year’s commemoration of National Vocation Awareness Week, the Vocation Office picked the theme, “The Priesthood: Offering Hope and Healing.”

As you know, we look out at the world and find that it is very troubled. Seemingly on a daily basis we hear and take in the violence and terrorism that occurs. It is tempting for us to give in to discouragement, and we often wonder if things will ever change for the better. Furthermore, we wonder what each of us can do personally to help.

May I share with you one place where I draw real hope?

While all hope is found in Jesus Christ, I find it especially evident in our men in the seminary! I have been able to visit the seminary several times this fall, and every time I have been blown away by the strong, vibrant spirit that is present there! These men — from our diocese and from many others — are on fire for Christ! They are prayerful, they are real, and they are intensely responding to the call of Jesus to be spiritual fathers after his own heart.

We all know that this world needs Jesus Christ. Our world and, yes, we need that personal encounter with him every day. We need for him to intervene in our lives, to heal us, transform us and remind us that love is more powerful than evil.

Fr. Ben Kociemba is the associate director of vocations for the Diocese of St. Cloud. He also serves as chaplain of Cathedral High School in St. Cloud.

We can’t simply rely on ourselves when it comes to addressing our difficult world or our own lives. God uses the priest to enable us to have powerful encounters with Jesus the healer. God speaks to us directly through the ordained priest when we hear those words, “Your sins are forgiven” or “May the Lord save you and raise you up” as we hear in the sacraments of reconciliation or anointing of the sick.

Jesus in the person of the priest provides us with himself in the Eucharist, which continues to strengthen our faith, hope and love. Jesus offers us counsel and hope when we hear the Gospel proclaimed.

In addressing our difficult and often scary world, God will not desert us. We hear in St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, “Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

God’s graces are not exhausted and he will always provide the graces for us to meet our challenges. He provides us with shepherds after his own heart. Let us pray for our men who are preparing for the priesthood. Let us take time to thank them for offering us real hope!

— Father Ben Kociemba

Prayer for Vocations

Gracious God and Father,
We praise You for Your goodness and love. You teach us that each vocation is born in prayer and only through prayer does it persevere and bear fruit.
We ask You to stir the hearts of all those You call to the priesthood and consecrated life in the Diocese of Saint Cloud. Make them generous. Make them courageous. Make them joyful in giving everything to Jesus.
Send Your Holy Spirit upon our families and our children. Choose from our parishes, our homes and our schools those called to this adventure of love. With Mary, Mother of every vocation, we ask this through Christ our Lord.
— Vocation Office, St. Cloud Diocese


Upcoming events sponsored by diocesan Vocation Office

• Thanksgiving Mass for Vocations is Nov. 9

All are invited to a thanksgiving Mass for Vocations at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. Bishop Donald Kettler will preside; Father Scott Pogatchnik and Father Ben Kociemba will concelebrate.

Refreshments will be served after the Mass and religious vocation materials will be available.

At 6 p.m. in the lower basement of St. Mary’s, a panel of priests (diocesan and Crosier) and religious (Franciscan sister, Benedictine brother and Benedictine sister) will answer questions about vocations and discernment before the Mass for Vocations.

National Vocation Awareness Week is Nov. 5-11. Visit the diocesan Vocation Office website at http://vocations.stcdio.org.

• Andrew Dinner with Bishop Kettler

If you are a young man in the 8th – 12th grades discerning priesthood and would like to attend the Andrew Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 10 at Bishop Donald Kettler’s residence in St. Cloud, please contact the Vocation Office at 320-251-5001.

• Vianney Visit

If you are a young man discerning priesthood and would like to visit St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, please contact Father Ben Kociemba at 320-247-8878. The next visit is scheduled for Nov. 16-18.


About The Visitor

The Visitor is the official newpaper for the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

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