Fr Ismael’s Thoughts/Pensamientos de Ismael

Last month, I celebrated 19 years since I was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago. This anniversary has been an opportunity for me to reflect on what I have done during my priestly life and what I want to achieve in the future, and how the Holy Spirit has been working in me. Most of my classmates have been in about five or six assignments. I have been only in two. My first assignment was St. Benedict (now St. Mary Magdalene) in Blue Island. IL: 4 years as an associate pastor and 6 years as pastor. My last 9 years has been with you here at Blessed Sacrament. I do not know for how long I am going to be here, since my assign- ment is without a specific term, I could be transferred to another parish at any time, but I hope I will be here for at least 3 more years. There are many plans we want to implement in our parish: renovation of the former convent, building a restroom in the vestibule of the church, fixing many things in our buildings, selling the property we are not using, creating an evangelization team and a lead- ership group, continuing with ministries we used to have before the pandemic (Sunday’s liturgy for children, teen ministry, women’s club, among others). We have many things we want to achieve in the near future. Father Giovanny Navarro will be moving to another assignment at the end of this month. He is a diocesan priest from Colombia, where he was formed and ordained, but now he wants to be part of the archdiocese of Chicago. His two-year assignment with us is part of this process of being incardinated to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Now he will be assigned to another parish for three more years. At the end of that assignment, God willing, he will be part of the presbyterate of the archdiocese. We are not getting a re- placement for him since we have only one church and we do not have a lot of celebrations like we used to, and we do not have the resources for a salary of another full-time priest. We will get the help of some retired or visiting priests when needed, so we will be covered. Hopefully in the future we may get another associate pastor if there will be any available. Nineteen years ago, 12 priests were ordained, and we were told that we were too few. Thirty years ago, they used to ordain 20 priests every year, and fifty years ago, they used to ordain up to 40. On May 21st, 2022, only 2 priests were ordained for the Archdi- ocese. Many people have been complaining about the merging and closing of parishes, but if we do not have more priests, our situation could get a lot worse. Sometimes we complain that the Vocations office of the Archdiocese is not doing enough to recruit vocations to the priesthood. But if they don’t have candidates to work with, how are they going to get them? At the end of the day, it is always up to us to promote vocations to the priesthood. When was the last time that we invited a young man to consider priest- hood as a way of life? As a parent or grandparent, have you invited your boy to think about the priesthood? If you do not have any children, have you invited your nephew, neighbor, godchild, or friend to think about it? I have failed in doing it most often. That is probably one of the things I need to work at a lot more. I certainly believe that God will provide priests for His Church according to His heart. But perhaps God is not sending angels from heaven to promote vocations, because we are God’s voice and hands. We are God’s instruments. God needs all of us to promote vocations to the priesthood. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will strengthen us to use proper ways to get priests for His holy Catholic Church. Fr. Ismael

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