By Emily Drooby
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio’s annual vocational retreat has meant everything to Mauricio Mayen.
“I was able to pray in silence, meditate a lot, hear God’s calling,” Mauricio said.
It’s helped strengthen his decision to, God willing, enter the seminary next year.
“You get to concentrate a lot, you get to pray quietly, you get to adore Christ more, you also get to listen and understand other people’s story,” Mauricio told Currents News.
Mauricio’s story? He was born before hitting the seven-month mark, very premature but despite the odds, he survived. He believes it’s because God has a path laid out for him, one that leads to the priesthood.
This is his second year at the Bishop’s Vocational Retreat. The event normally takes place in Douglaston, but moved this year to the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Long Island.
It’s a weekend where high school boys and those older can consider whether God may be calling them to the priesthood.
Bishop DiMarzio explained that it’s a particularly inspiring year.
“This is the largest group we have ever had in my 17 years,” the bishop said, “and we’ve done this every year. Forty-two is a lot. Usually we have 25, 30 maybe? Not 42.”
That turnout is surprising that it’s occurring during a pandemic and just months after the Vatican released data showing the growing priest shortage across the world. However, bishops in the U.S. are reporting steady enrollment over the last decade.
“It’s moments like this that give me hope,” said Father Christopher Bethge, the vocation director for the Diocese of Brooklyn.
He explains that sometimes you just need to ask young men the question: would you become a priest?
“Well bishop always reminds us, if people are not asked, they can never respond,” said Father Bethge. “So, it’s important this weekend to ask the question, and once you plant the seed, you allow God to do the rest of the work.”
Bishop DiMarzio said that seeing other people might help them discern their vocation.
“People are thinking about it,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “When they see other people, 40 other people, here with them, they recognize, well it’s not only me thinking about it, it’s other people too.”
For Mauricio, this weekend is doing just that.
“Now I come with more of a prepared mentality of what I’m looking for,” he said. “What I am supposed to do. What I have to do.”