Last Sunday, in a beautiful ceremony, Fr. Michael Prakasam was ordained to the priesthood. He will now begin his ministry as an Associate Pastor at Saint Francs Xavier Cathedral in Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu, India. After two years of ministry in India, Fr. Michael will return to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to serve the Church here for five years.
One of the striking features of Fr. Michael's ordination was the number of young priests who filed into the Shrine of Saint Michael at the beginning of the Ordination Mass. While Catholics are a tiny minority in India's vast population, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are flourishing. The Church in India is generously sharing from this abundance with the Church in the United States. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis benefits from this generosity.
This exchange of priests is one of the many beautiful aspects of belonging to the 'Catholic' Church. Catholic means 'universal'. In an earlier time, the Church in Ireland sent countless priests and religious to the United States to help the Church minister to a growing Catholic population here. By the 1950's and 1960's American priests and religious were being sent to help the young Church in Africa, which now experiences abundant vocations. Like the Church in India, the Church in Africa is sharing priests with other parts of the world.
The Church in the United States is now a 'mission church'. One of the characteristics of a 'mission church' is a lack of native vocations to the priesthood and religious life to support the needs of the local church. We are experiencing this lack of vocations in our own Archdiocese today. There were no ordinations to the priesthood for the Archdiocese in 2020 and there will be no ordinations in 2021. At the same time, four priests of the Archdiocese have died this year and a growing number of priests is reaching retirement age.
This awareness should help us turn to the Master of the Harvest and fervently pray for the gift of vocations. The first week of November is National Vocation's Awareness Week. It is a perfect time to pray for the gift of vocations for the Church in the United States. We must strive to create an environment in our families and our parish where vocations to the priesthood and religious life are prayed for and encouraged. Let us also pray for the seminarians currently discerning a vocation to the priesthood at Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary and at Saint Meinrad Seminary. With trust that God will continue to care for us, let us ask him to send workers into the fields and may some of these workers be from our own parish community of Christ the King!
See you at Mass!