The Good Shepherd is one of my favorite images of the Risen Jesus and how He continues to guide the Church today. He came so that we “might have life and have it more abundantly.” During the Easter season we see how Jesus shepherds his people --- from death to everlasting life. He even speaks of himself as the Gate. All other shepherds must serve through Him and in Him.
Today is often called “Good Shepherd Sunday,” a special day of prayer that more people will hear the call of Christ to be priests, deacons, and sisters and brothers in consecrated religious life. This Good Shepherd Sunday marks the 60th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Pope Saint Paul VI called for this day of prayer beginning in 1963. It’s a day designated throughout the world to pray that God will inspire more good shepherds to follow Jesus in the Church.
When God came to dwell among us, he chose for himself the image of a Shepherd, even the Gate, and He handed it on to Saint Peter when he committed to him the care of the church and gave him the “keys.” Anyone today who would lead God’s people ought to be just like the Good Shepherd, a careful Gate, with knowledge, patience, gentleness, and willingness to even lay down his life for the sheep.
Serving in this Diocese is a real challenge. It really is a missionary diocese, growing by leaps and bounds. You might say that we are short on clergy but rich in potential. It’s exciting for me to be part of a growing diocese – that’s why I came here 21 years ago. Next month, our Diocese will ordain one new priest - Thomas Pressley. That’s great, but we need a lot more new priests!
So please pray for me and for those who have been appointed to the task of shepherds in our Diocese. Pray for more priests, deacons and religious to serve us here. Offer a word of encouragement to someone you know who might make a good priest, deacon or religious sister or brother. Remember them in your prayers to the one who shepherds us all.
Fr. Mark Zacker