Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Stories of Sacrifice and Giving

Father John J. Lombardi

Would you give up a major-money making career, a family and fame to become celibate, materially poor and a busy as a bee all the time?

Maybe not. But Chase Hilgenbrinck, a phenom soccer player of the New England Revolution professional soccer team did­to become a priest. And: he’ll be living and studying in our back yard here at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary near Mary’s Grotto!

He was playing soccer for years in Chile and then played for New England. Born in Illinois, he recently said: "After years of discernment, I feel strongly that the Lord has called me to become a priest of the Catholic Church. Playing professional soccer has become my passion for a long now time and I feel blessed to have successfully lived out this dream. My passion now is to do the will of God, which is wanting only what He wants for me. Though I will miss the game of soccer I know that I am moving to something much greater."

"Wanting to do only what He wants for me". Do you have that thought and passion? Sometimes we need stories like this to re-inspire us amidst our many goals and passions in life. Certainly we need more your men to consider this calling. Have you ever encouraged a young man and teen to become a priest?

The word vocation, comes from the Latin, meaning "to call". Just think: if we do not call people to the priesthood, then who will? Sometimes­a lotta times, really­people respond to others when the seed is planted in their wondering heads and thus may confirm their possibility of becoming a priest. We all need confirmations and encouragements: maybe some young man around you needs it from you!

I must admit: I’ve been shy in the past, to encourage men to the priesthood, but the more I read stories like Hilgenbricnk’s, and hear other people calling men to serve the Lord, the more I want to invite others to The Call . Our own Archbishop O’Brien is making definite and concrete advances in vocations and thus encouraging us all to encourage others. We need to remove the shyness and promote vocations to build up the body of Christ.

We do need priests today­so many parishes do not have an assigned pastor; priests are mutli tasking and burning out. Sure there are the challenges: life long commitment; celibacy; lack of prestige and financial gain. However, think of the virtues of Hilgenbrinck:

Conversion-Hilgenbrinck said: "I feel strongly that the Lord has called me to become a priest of the Catholic church".

Vision---"I want to move on to something much greater" Hilgrnbricnk said. Jobs, possessions and relationships can be great, but not as great as a living relationship with the Lord God­and serving Him! Do you have that same vision as Hilgenbrinck?

Carpe Diem/Size the day: Why wait? He said: "We are all called to do something. I feel like my specific call is too the priesthood. So, it is not possible for me to continue with soccer. It’s absolutely inevitable."

Remind all people­single, laypersons, married­that they are called to be holy where they are­the Universal call to holiness of Vatican Council II .

Homeless and Helpful

As usual: I was rushing thru some duties at the Grotto trying to get to a nearby town for Sunday Mass. A lady stopped me, introduced herself, holding a bag and looking a little disheveled. It was not yet eight in the morning: I was still waking up. As I listened to her I opened our office door, thought of a thousand things to do, mentioned that I was on my way to a Mass, and I’m sure looking a little harried, and then said "Good morning" to her.

She then said she was living out of her car (I had observed that she might have been homeless) and then said surprisingly,: "I understand you are building a welcome center…I wanna make a donation." I was aghast and then woke up more fully! She also said that she would like a blessing.

I then thought to myself, in an instant: God does this lots to me while at the Grotto: I am busy about various duties trying to move along and someone stops me, whom I think needs some help or special favor and, instead they do a favor for me, for Mary’s Grotto!

The holy lady pulled out of her pocket the donation: it was a bunch of change­coins: the widow’s mite, I thought. I took the money gratefully, humbly, for I had, once again, underestimated a pilgrim.

I gave her a holy card and then a blessing and, in an instant, she disappeared. She manifested, visited and then moved along to some other unknown place. I had an "encounter with the Lord’s love".

Thankfully we’ve gotten lots of donations for our Pilgrims’ Center­large and small, and this tiny-gigantic one from this homeless lady was most appreciated and helpful. We need everyone’s help and I’m learning not to underestimate people’s goodness­and love of Mary and Jesus.

If you want to make a large or small donation­along with your prayers, of course­please contact Bill Tronolone at our Grotto Office, 301-447- and he will be glad to help you. Every donation counts and will contribute to the beautification of Mary’s Holy Shrine and grotto!

Giving in love and Marriage

I was with a priest friend, Fr Jim Farmer recently, who related that he met a couple, along with some of their children. Fr Farmer, impressed by their faith (attending Mass, believing Church teachings, following Jesus amidst challenges) said that the father once lost his job and, and while already having a bunch of children, decided with his wife to have yet another child. They did! And he got a good job.

How many stories do you hear of couples under job pressures, family issues, financial difficulties, needing to move, looking for work, and deciding to give birth to another child?

We are told that having a child today takes a million or so dollars to bring him/her up thru adolescence.

Pope Paul VI wrote "Humanae Vitae" ("On Human Life") in 1968, to encourage Catholic and Christian couples to be open to birth in the way God designed marital love, without contraception. It was prophetic call to discipleship in a time­then and now­when dollar amounts are put on children; when children are not always welcomed into life and marital love; when contraction has become a seeming option of many to forego sacrificial, family love and life.

The people above trusted in God, in their Church and their spiritual lives­all practicing Catholics and Christians, and then abandoned to the Lord­just like the saints mentioned in the bible. How can you do the same? We need more of them to inspire us and also instigate us into divine Life!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi