Seminarian Candidacy and a Pastor’s Joy – Fr. Matt Libra

Apr 24, 2024

As the Church across the world prepared for Good Shepherd Sunday, one of our Portland seminarians, Jacob McDougall, was admitted in the rite of candidacy to the priesthood of Jesus the Good Shepherd.

Candidacy is one of the minor orders where the Bishop calls, and a man formally presents himself, to prepare for the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The man declares his intention to form his mind and heart so as to be able to faithfully serve Christ the Lord and His Body, the Church. In some way, it’s like the moment when Jesus calls the apostles to come and be with Him so that He might send them out to prepare the way for Him to come to the towns and people.

In this simple rite, the Bishop received Jacob’s generous self-gift as an offering. Recognizing the fire being fanned into flame in their hearts, the Bishop blessed him and his classmate saying, “The Church receives your resolve with joy. May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.” Jacob was full of peace and grinning from ear to ear.

I’ve had the privilege of knowing Jacob well since he was in 6th grade. He has always been generous, inquisitive, and joyful. Like his family, he blesses our parish with his presence and finds ways to serve. But, on this day, I saw a young man full of confidence and strength stand before a group of peers, formators, and teachers to declare how his life has been changed at Bishop White Seminary. Jacob shared how he has come to know Jesus the Good Shepherd more intimately through them and the fraternity they shared.

Moments like this are a joy for a pastor to be a part of. For me, the rite was a moment of celebration of maturity having watched Jacob grow up into a man who has come to know love and choose to give his life to Jesus with all the love in his heart. It was like learning that one of the guys you used to hike with has gone on to summit Mt. Hood. Wonder, peace, and gratitude filled my heart.

Jacob’s pursuit of the Lord’s call in his life also gives great joy to our parish. I thought of all the people in our parish and school who Jacob grew up with and who discipled him in all those “chance” encounters. Their prayers and influence are now bearing fruit in his vocation.

It is a gift to see every holy vocation sprout forth in our midst, whether to holy marriage, religious life, or priesthood. I hope we all can treasure the experience of living our ordinary daily life as disciples and celebrate that good work as it is brought to fulfillment by our Good God.

Pictured: Fr. Matt Libra, Jacob McDougall, Fr. Peter Julia

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