SAGINAW, Mich. — Seminarian Rich Budd, 25, knows exactly how to reach Bishop Robert Carlson if he has any questions or concerns.
“On my cell phone — on speed dial — is the bishop’s cell phone number,” said Budd. “And there’s definitely been nights where I’ve had to call him.”
He noted that seminarians elsewhere are unsure if their bishop is as accessible.
“We have a real personal relationship,” Budd. “Not every seminarian has that gift.”
Budd is one of 19 men from the Diocese of Saginaw who are discerning a call to the priesthood. That’s a big increase from just three years ago, and given Bishop Carlson’s emphasis, that comes as no surprise to Budd.
“He’s said from Day 1 that he wants to create a ‘Culture of Vocations,’” the seminarian said. “It starts with the bishop, but it goes all the way down the line. We all have to be ‘vocation aware.’”
Bishop Carlson recently became chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry. He had been chairman-elect for a year, familiarizing himself with the job.
But he already had a reputation as being a bishop with a successful approach to vocations. When he became bishop of Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1995, the average age of priests in the diocese was 60. When he was appointed to Saginaw in 2005, that age had dropped to 48.6. By then, Sioux Falls had 25 seminarians, while Saginaw, with about the same number of Catholics at 135,000, had four.
When he was installed in Saginaw, he announced that he would “personally work to build up the priesthood” in the diocese and named himself director of vocations. That action convinces young men that vocations are a top priority, said seminarian Ben Moll.
“Bishop Carlson is very outgoing in supporting vocations,” said Moll, 27. “He goes out to search for young people to consider a vocation.”
According to Bishop Carlson, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is crucial to the vocation of the priesthood.
“We must abide in Christ if we are to bear fruit. This means that we must be holy,” said Bishop Carlson. “Without personal holiness it will be possible to hold the office, but the fruitfulness of the ministry will be compromised.”
Read the whole article which includes mention of Operation Andrew named after the first apostle that Jesus called that allows young men a chance to discuss vocations with the bishop over dinner. I am sure this will work much better than Operation Judas which seemed to have been in effect in many places in the seventies and beyond.