It was during an online orientation for one of our High Calling classes that I met Andrei.
While he had come to us from a large metropolitan diocese in the United States, it was clear that he wasn’t currently at home.
“Are you in the military, Andrei?” I asked.
“Yes, sir,” he answered proudly.
“The army, sir.”
“Where are you stationed?”
I sat back in my chair, forcibly struck by the thought that we were currently in the height of conflict in that part of the world. Here, I realized, was a young man who was ready to give his life on two levels: to serve his country in one of the most dangerous places in the world, and—no less heroic—to lay down his life for the Church in persona Christi by becoming a Catholic priest.
As I looked at the faces of the dozens of discerning young men on the screen that night, all of them ready to “enlist” in God’s army at the sound of His summons, I got a lump in my throat. I was overwhelmed with humility in being able to serve them, and grateful for the vision and the technology to be able to reach them no matter where in the world they were. And please understand—it is incredibly important that we reach them.
It is rarely easy to discern God’s call. It is harder now than it has ever been. In the absence of solid Catholic education, parish formation, and spiritual direction, in the steady stream of noise and the pollution of impurity in the culture, in the increased isolation of our society, in the breakdown of family life and lack of male role models—young men who feel a tug on their heart toward the priesthood must be given a safe place to discern and the tools to become men of prayer, courage, purity, and sacrifice.
They must be given a community of support, to see reflected on their screens hopeful, longing faces like their own.
They must be provided holy teachers and mentors ready to stand in the breach for them and battle the demons who would pick them off like spiritual snipers given half a chance.
Friends, I’ve dedicated my life to the mission of spiritual direction. Through the grace of God and the work of the Avila Institute, I’ve taught and served religious, priests, and lay men and women in more than 70 countries around the world. I’ve coached countless parish groups through the fundamentals of prayer. With my wife Stephanie, I’ve helped married couples find true healing and freedom through discernment and spiritual warfare.
But I understand more and more how beginning the High Calling seminary preparation program and seeing to the spiritual direction of young men discerning the priesthood is by far the most important work we’ve undertaken at the Avila Foundation.
Because these young men represent the future of the Catholic Church. Their voices will proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the words of absolution, the words of consecration. Their hands will be anointing us, blessing us, baptizing our children and grandchildren, and raising the Host over our bowed heads. They will extend the priesthood of Jesus Christ and the saving power of His Sacrifice in the world for the next generations.
But like everything we do, we don’t do it alone—and we simply can’t continue without the help of people like you: people who have hope for the future of the Church, who know that while the Church may become smaller it will not be weaker, who believe in the power fo God to resurrect the priesthood and who are willing to sacrifice to see it happen.
Will you join the Avila Foundation in this most important work? Will you please provide scholarships for men in dioceses who do not have the funds to send them to us?
We need to raise $210,000 for scholarships to the High Calling program this academic year. To get us halfway there by the end of 2020, our goal for the month of December is $105,000… We have raised almost $38,000 so far… will you help us close the gap?
As we reach the end of our calendar year, please help us to help these men. Please open your heart and donate today.
There are few things more necessary—and now, with what we have been able to begin to put in place through the generosity of dedicated donors—more possible.
If you can find it in your heart to join us and to give and to give generously, we will no doubt be able to continue this mission and carry it further than any of us could have foreseen.
Are you in?
Don’t do it for me. Do it for Andrei and for the courageous young men like him streaming into our virtual doors, searching for God’s Will.
Donate here: https://raisedonors.com/avila-foundation/donate2020
Thank you in advance. Thank you for your prayers, your generous gifts, and for keeping the faith. It is an honor to work alongside such faithful followers of Christ!
Be assured of my prayers for you and yours this Advent and Christmas season.
Yours in the Long-Awaited Messiah,
President, Avila Foundation
Unum est Necessarium
Image credit: Deposit Photos