By Rebecca Howerton
One of the Catholic clergy’s newest members, Michael Cassabon of Simpsonville, said he looks forward to serving joyfully, following the example of his parents, Michael and Mary Cassabon, as well as others such as Mother Teresa, who have given their lives in service to others.
Cassabon, who was ordained July 27 in Columbia and celebrated his first mass July 29 at his home parish, St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Simpsonville, said he first felt the call to the priesthood during confession while he was a senior at St. Joseph’s High School.
“It was in that sacrament that I really experienced God, not as a concept but as someone who was in love with me and had a plan for me,” he said.
After studying political science at Furman for two years, Cassabon transferred to the Pontifical College Josephinum to study philosophy. He taught religion and led a campus ministry at Bishop England High School in Charleston before continuing his studies in Rome at the suggestion of the Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, the Most Rev. Robert Baker.
Cassabon lives at the Pontifical North American College, the national American seminary in Rome, which was established in 1855 and is considered an extra-territorial part of Vatican City. He attends classes at the Pontifical Gregorian University, a Jesuit University founded in 1551 by St. Ignatius of Loyola. He received a degree in theology in 2006, and will complete another graduate degree in canon law in 2009. All of his classes — except Greek — have been taught in Italian.
“Being a priest for me means preaching the truth of God’s mercy and the reality of the resurrection in people’s lives that are so often marked by heartbreak and disappointment,” he said. “Letting them know God is there, and that He loves them, that’s where my heart is.”
…Cassabon said he and other young priests feel that by living lives of honesty and integrity they can facilitate healing in the wake of abuse scandals, while helping parishioners find the path to true fulfillment.
“We’re scandalized by it, too,” he said. “The hearts and minds of my peers are on restoring the hope, faith and trust among people. We’re also very concerned about bringing people back to the church. People are trying to fill an emptiness in their hearts with consumerism, with a frenzied search for more and more, with relationship after relationship. Nothing can bring peace and make them joyful and happy but God himself.
As for the shortage of priests, Cassabon related it to a societal fear of commitment, including reluctance to commit to a spouse.
“We also need men and women to commit to good marriages,” he said. “There’s no shortage of vocations, just a shortage of responses.”
Cassabon said that while giving up the chance to marry and have children to become a priest can be seen as a loss, it can also be viewed as a gift and gain, as the desire for family is filled in many ways by the parish family.
“It’s a timeless Christian paradox that to find life, you have to first lose it,” he said. “The responsibility and burdens are huge, but the honor of sharing in people’s lives at births, funerals, weddings, at confession, just being there for them; these are moments of extraordinary intimacy.”
God bles him. We definitely need more men like him.
The picture of curt jester beside is ugly
What a beautiful witness of Jesus’ love he is already!
I think he is right, the reason we have so few new priests is that people in our society are reluctant to commit to anything — and, at the same time, they are right because there is little security in anything). I hope this is something that is gradually changing.
We do need more like him, but I am meeting more and more priests who have such a passion for their vocation and as we interact with more men like this the more vocations grow.
I find the new generation of priests to be superior to their recent elders however, I would be much more encouraged if Father was worrying about getting people to Heaven. They have heard more than enough of “Jesus loves me.”
“I would be much more encouraged if Father was worrying about getting people to Heaven. “
I assume that all priests are concerned about getting people to Heaven, except those who have just returned from retreats where it is drummed into their brains that everyone will go to Heaven, no matter what.
I think he is right, the reason we have so few new priests is that people in our society are reluctant to commit to anything — and, at the same time, they are right because there is little security in anything).
I’m not sure that washes. Catholics still get married all the time. Marriage is permanent and indissoluble whereas the promise of celibacy and being in the clerical state are not (though the sacrament of Holy Orders itself is permanent).
“at the same time, they are right because there is little security in anything”
I agree with that. There are fewer marriages, statistically, aren’t there? And many of the modern weddings are as “anti-marriages”. The readings employed (from Gibran, etc) make very clear that there is no surrender involved, no “eating of the same loaf, drinking from the same cup”, etc. Spiritually and psychologically defensive. Marriage is being re-designed as a “living side-by-side”, a committed partnership that will remain in effect as long as both parties cooperate.
For those of us with sons, the commitments of the priesthood may be frightening. We are more aware of things outside of an individual priest’s control that could go wrong. We also know that our sons are human and may fail in certain respects.We are watching what happens next. So far, the future is not looking that much better. If my son were to come of age tomorrow, I would be apprehensive upon hearing that he felt he had a vocation. I wouldn’t try to stop him, but I sure would seek supportive prayer from every corner!
On the other hand, if my son ever enters the priesthood, God help the Church!!!
Catholics also get divorced a lot too! They also co-habitate a lot. Commitment is a problem for Catholics just like it is for the society at large. I have done vocation work for over 10 years…there is a palatable fear of committing oneself to any long term relationship.
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