'Young church' joins Bishop Loverde for Vocations Mass

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Busloads of eighth-graders from diocesan schools packed Holy Spirit Church in Annandale March 8 for the annual Vocations Mass.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde was the celebrant, with Fathers John M. O'Donohue, pastor; Joel D. Jaffe, director of vocations; Deacon Nicholas J. LaDuca and priests of the diocese concelebrating.

In his homily, the bishop welcomed the students, calling them the "young church."

Bishop Loverde said that the day's Gospel from St. Mark was the story of a young man who ran up to Jesus and knelt before Him asking, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Jesus told him to follow the commandments, especially how to treat others. When the man said he did that, Jesus replied, "You are lacking in one thing. Go sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."

The young man balked at the suggestion because he was rich. His face dropped, and he walked away.

The bishop said the man was not evil because he was rich. The man was attached to money.

Bishop Loverde said the students may not have independent wealth, but they could still become attached to objects like electronic devices, clothes and social media.

Because of an attachment to things, we may not hear the call from God to the priesthood or religious life, he said.

The bishop said most of the students will be called to the married life. But there will be some who are called to be priests or religious men and women. He said they should be ready to respond generously to God. He told the students to be receptive to God's call to service.

"Here I am Lord," should be the students' response, he said.

As he often does when he speaks about his vocation and his 50 years as a priest, the bishop said, "I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. It's a great life."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016