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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Questions About a Priestly Vocation

I am a college student and we are assigned to ask questions of people with different vocations— and one of them is a priest. I found your site and if it is alright with you, it would be a big help if I could ask you a few questions about your chosen vocation.

QUESTION 1 – What made you decide to be a priest? I read that you attended multiple seminaries. Has it always been your plan since you were a child to pursue this path?

RESPONSE 1

The priest who baptized me placed me on the altar and prayed that I might be a priest.  My father deeply hoped I would be a priest and I can remember playing a priest as a child. The family was deeply devoted to the Catholic faith and we participated in the Mass every Sunday.  When I got older I was heavily attracted to girls and thought how nice it would be to have a spouse and a family of my own.  My high school year book has the word “physician” under my face and name. I was scheduled to study biology and pre-med at university. However, I had also applied to the seminary.  It was to my surprise that I was accepted into the program for priestly formation and so I returned my scholarships and grants.  Why did I apply? The process would take eight or more years, plenty of time for discernment. Many were sent home but by God’s providence I remained and flourished.  The sacrifices were very real to me, especially obedience (not just celibacy).  I did not fell worthy but what could be a greater calling than making possible the forgiveness of sins and making present the saving activity of Calvary and the real presence of Jesus Christ as our food for the journey? 

QUESTION 2 – What commitments must one be ready for in pursuing a religious vocation? Are there any challenges that you experience as a priest? If so, what are they?

RESPONSE 2

The priesthood demands a radical discipleship to love the Lord and to allow that love to spill over and to be expressed in caring for others.  The life requires a commitment to daily prayer and service. Throughout one must be honest about motivation and practice.  The academic life is also crucial and many men wash out because of intellectual demands.  One must also be comfortable with “aloneness,” as priests are men set aside and frequently living by themselves.  The promises or vows require genuine sacrifices.  Celibacy is largely misunderstood as a negation of sexuality. Instead, the priest should be a manly man who embraces celibacy as a special and generous way of loving and relating to others.  He belongs wholly to the Lord and the Church. He also pledges obedience, meaning he trusts the Lord and the teaching church more than his own pet ideas.  He also goes where he is sent, accepting the divine will that is fostered by his superiors (bishops) and by the nature of his ministry.  He treasures the faith and persons more than things.

All callings have challenges but prayer or a living relationship with Jesus makes possible his fidelity.  Many priests continue to do their work even though the world suspects them because of the crimes of a few. They take up their crosses and follow Jesus, knowing that theirs is a discipleship rooted in sacrifice and love. The best of priests struggle with broken hearts.  Having faced the demons that secretly plague people’s lives, Good priests are wounded healers.

QUESTION 3 – Do you have any piece of wisdom you can give that you only got when you became a priest?

RESPONSE 3

Ours is not a Pollyanna faith.  Life is hard. Not all stories in this world end happy-ever-after.  The biggest awakening I discovered in my priesthood is how terribly sin places souls in spiritual bondage.  There are far more “people of the lie” than I had imagined as a youth. Avoiding the secular radar, there is a demonic oppression that inflicts many, including people in leadership.  It preys with the bait of human vices and is the source for the devaluing of persons and for dismissing the sanctity of life. A priest is a source for mercy but he is also a sentinel for Christ to a world that will target him just as it did Jesus for speaking the truth and seeking to bring freedom from the devil’s bondage.