A Cross Road and A New Journey
It has been just over a month since Bishop Cote ordained two of our seminarians to the Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ, Father Martin Noe and Father Jonathan Ficara and the reverberation of joy that has emanated from epicenter which is the Cathedral of Saint Patrick is still being talked about!
We have seven men who have already arrived at their respective seminaries to either continue or start anew their formation and journey towards the priesthood. During the fall months here in the Vocation Corner and on our Website, www.god-calls.com, you will have the opportunity to meet our three newest seminarians; Deacon Ron Blank, Michael Bovino and Frank Gilbert. You will also have the opportunity to hear from both Peter Langevin and Jeff Ellis regarding their experiences in Guatemala for six weeks this past summer.
Below is a brief introduction from Deacon Ron Blank who has served here in the diocese for over ten years as a permanent deacon and explains below a little about his journey the last year or so which has brought him a cross roads and now a new journey, a new call. Please keep Deacon Ron Blank and each of our seminarians and newly ordained priests in your prayers.
A Cross roads and A New Journey -
I was ordained as a permanent deacon on July 12, 2005 and had been serving at Notre Dame Parish for several years. I continued there when it was yoked with St. Colman parish a little more than three years ago. My wife was also active in the parishes. It was Holy Thursday of 2013 when after a few weeks of not feeling well she was diagnosed with stage three cancer and two weeks later the cancer was determined to be stage four and we were informed it was terminal.
When my wife lost her short battle with cancer and the Lord called her to her heavenly home, I knew my life would change dramatically. I was surprised when at the wake a woman I have known all my life walked up to me and told me to become a priest. My reaction, though unspoken, was that I could not consider make any major decisions just then. The next evening my thirty one year old son suggested that I consider becoming a priest. Three weeks later my father called on a Wednesday evening and suggested the same thing. In each case my first response was surprise followed by the same statement about it being too soon for me to make any decisions.
The really surprising thing about these events is that I never once mentioned anything about ministry, including the priesthood, to any of them. Also, none of these three people knew that any of the other two had mentioned anything to me about becoming a priest. Nevertheless, the idea had been firmly planted in my mind.
Six months later while at work in my career as an engineer I realized that I had spent the whole day thinking about becoming a priest. I prayed about if for a whole month and the idea that the Lord was calling me to the priesthood only became stronger and more certain. It was now six months since my wife’s passing. I felt that the time had come when I could make major decisions and I decided to answer the call to the priesthood.
I spoke to our parish priest about it. He took it seriously and referred me to the Vocations Office for the diocese of Norwich. I contacted Fr. Greg Galvin by email which was followed up with a phone call. We talked and met a couple times, but I never felt pressured or rushed. I also discussed it with my family and they are very happy about it. Soon I began the process for applying for sponsorship for study to become a diocesan priest.
As I filled out paperwork and gathered the required documents I felt some level of assurance that I was doing the right thing. As a permanent deacon I had always been very much aware of the need for more priests and often added prayer for more priests to the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass. I often prayed for more priests in my own private prayers as well. I never expected that calling me to the priesthood would be a part of the Lord’s answer to my prayers for an increase in vocations in our diocese. I am glad to be part of the answer to these prayers and I am very happy to be attending Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary this fall in Weston Massachusetts.
I think back to those three people who told me to become a priest beginning at my wife’s funeral and I see how the Lord had spoken to me through those people. I have no doubt he continues to speak through others calling more men to the priesthood.