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July 23, 2017

Holy Hour for Vocations to be held at Mary, Mother of Hope Parish

REGIONAL
Story and photos by Carolee McGrath

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Father Matthew Alcombright leads the youth in prayer at eucharistic adoration on Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017 at Mary, Mother of Hope Parish in Springfield. The parish will be hosting a Holy Hour for Vocations Friday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.

SPRINGFIELD – The fourth annual Holy Hour for Vocations will be held Friday, Aug. 4 at Mary Mother of Hope Parish on Page Boulevard in Springfield at 7 p.m. The prayer vigil coincides with the feast day of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests.

“The reason this is being done every year is because of the great need to pray for vocations. Now, more so than ever, is a need for men and women to respond to a call to service in the church as a priest or religious sister,” said Father Matthew Alcombright, the pastor of Mary Mother of Hope Parish.

“Jesus says ‘the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few, so pray to the Master of the Harvest.’ Jesus asks us to pray for vocations. There isn’t a lack of people to be called, but there is a lack of laborers who will commit themselves to the beautiful life that is the priests’ and religious,” he continued.

Father Alcombright, who was ordained in 2012, also serves as the director of the Office of  Ministry with the Deaf for the Diocese of Springfield.

“We also pray in a particular way on the feast of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, for an increase of vocations to the priesthood. Without the priest, there is no Eucharist and there is a dire need for the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist amidst our diocese, nation and world,” Father Alcombright said. “We pray for young men to be courageous and answer the call to the priesthood.”

Father Alcombright said it was prayer that helped him say yes to God. He also said he had the full support of his family.

Father Matthew Alcombright, pastor of Mary, Mother of Hope Parish (left), poses for a picture with Father Barrent Pease, taken shortly before Father Pease’s ordination on June 10.

“Prayer is real. Prayer is something that is living and effective and it is something that we are all called to do. Jesus asks us to pray and, in a particular way, to pray for vocations. I cannot imagine my life as a priest without a life of prayer not only of my own personal prayer but the prayers of those who pray for me,” he said.

The guest homilist will be Father Barrent Pease, the associate pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Springfield. Father Pease, who was ordained to the priesthood in June, served at Mary Mother of Hope Parish as a deacon while he was in the seminary.

“The Eucharist is the source and center of the priest’s life and identity. It is for this reason we are having a Holy Hour for priestly vocations, because the man called to the priesthood finds in our Eucharistic Lord, the One whom he is to be conformed to and taken up into,” said Father Pease.

“It is only in Jesus that the man called to the priesthood discovers his true self. In like manner, religious men and women consecrate their lives to our Lord Jesus Christ. They find in our Eucharistic Lord, the Incarnate God who calls them by name to give up all worldly things  and to follow Him,” Father Pease explained.

St. John Paul II spoke of the importance of eucharistic adoration in fostering vocations. In his 2003 encyclical letter, “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” St. John Paul II wrote, “The centrality of the Eucharist in the life and ministry of priests is the basis of its centrality in the pastoral promotion of priestly vocations. It is in the Eucharist that prayer for vocations is most closely united to the prayer of Christ the Eternal High Priest.”

According to a 2016 study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a research center affiliated with Georgetown University, there are about 37,000 priests in the United States. Currently, there are 16 men in priestly formation for the Diocese of Springfield.

Father Alcombright hopes that local Catholics will spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to pray for priests and those whom God is calling. He has this message for anyone who might be putting God’s call on hold.

“After five years of ordination there is only one word that describes how I feel: happy. The life of a priest is not always easy, but I can honestly say at the end of each day, I go to bed happy, happy for the life that God has called me to, happy for the ministry I am able to share with all those I meet, happy to be a part of a family, my biological family, my parish family, my fellow brother priests and the church family universal,” said Father Alcombright.

“I’m happy to be called, unworthy as I am, to lead people to Christ and to walk with those same people and encounter Christ in them,” he said.