Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Story of a Son's Call to the Priesthood

Father Ed Sousa, Jr.

The other day I asked my friend Ed of In God's Company 2 what his wife's secret in having a priest for a son. Ed graciously shared the following with me. I do have his permission to share this with you.

When Eddie was a young boy he was very prayerful and he had great love and devotion to our Blessed Mother. We could see there was something special about that, especially for a child his age. We didn't pray for Eddie to become a priest but what we did do is to say to Our Lord, " That if He was calling Eddie to become a priest someday that it was fine with us. We gave the Lord permission to do whatever He thought was best for him.
Our prayer was that His Will would be forfilled in Eddie. So that is Donna's secret and mind.

Eddie never told us that he had any thoughts or intension's of becoming a priest. We suggested to him once or twice through the years that the Lord might be calling him to the priesthood, but he just disregarded that. He said he had other plans for his life. He wanted to become a Chef.

Then one night he said to us that he wanted to go and study for the priesthood.
Wow! We were full of joy.

Isn't that just beautiful!!

Ed went even further and shared Father Ed Jr's own words to what called him to the priesthood:

" Testimony of Fr. Edward A. Sousa "

"Come follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men" (Mt. 4:19). When I was a teenager, I could remember hearing this saying of Jesus read at Mass, but never did its importance actually affect me in my life, until I turned the age of twenty-six. I would say that I began to experience a turning point to respond generously to this call.

When I was a child, up to my teenage years and into my early adulthood, I had no desire whatsoever to become a priest. In fact, I remember sitting in a Career Day lecture in high school with an image in my mind of an ideal planned life for myself. I would go to college, get a good education, earn a decent amount of money, get married, have a family of my own, eventually become a grandfather and,finally,enjoy retirement in my old age.

So, what happened to me between the years of my childhood into early adulthood?

Well, my desire to follow my set plan in life grew stronger and I had a set goal of getting a good education in the field that interest me. I developed an interest in culinary arts and decided in my senior year that I wanted to become a professional chef. Therefore, upon graduating, I enrolled at Johnson & Wales University. Two years later I graduated with an Associate of Occupational Science degree in culinary arts and I was what you would call a "professional chef."

I made decent money and was happy. All during this time I was what you would call the "average" Catholic. I went to church every Sunday, although many times half-heartedly, and was doing the best I could to be faithful to my beliefs. I was always a person with much joy, and had a wonderful family. I also dated off and on, and I had many friends.

However, I felt that there was still something missing. I was searching and looking for a meaning to my life. I began to figure out that the things of the world could not provide me with this so called "purpose" and "meaning" in life. I realized that maybe it was only God that could truly provide me with what I was looking for.

I slowly developed a desire to pray the Rosary. I always had a devotion to the Blessed Mother. The more I prayed, I felt my love and relationship to Jesus growing. I started to understand what many great saints throughout the Catholic Church have said for centuries. The main purpose of our love for the Blessed Mother is, "to lead us closer to her Son Jesus, for the good of our salvation."

I found myself paying more attention to the Holy Mass, feeling a hunger for God's Word, and remembering the bible readings. I was going to confession more frequently. In my spare time, I went to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament rather than going out with my friends.

I began to get involved in church through the generosity of my current pastor, Father Reinaldo Cardoso, in all area of the parish life. My mother asked me, "Have you ever thought about priesthood?" The question caught me off guard. I tried to avoid the question with nervous laughs, but I began to realize things were changing in my life and it would only be a matter of time. I spent time asking myself, "Why would God be calling me?" I was not sure if God was truly calling me.

It was May of 1995, during a special holy hour at my parish, that I met a young visiting priest from East Timor. He asked me, "Have you ever thought about priesthood?"

I felt a moment of grace and the question hit me like a "ton of bricks." This time I did not shrug it off. It was then that I met with Father Cardoso, and told him my thoughts.

My parents were not surprised and were extremely happy with my desire to follow Christ in the priesthood. In August of 1995, I left my paying job and in September I entered the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence. I enrolled in Providence College and began the first two-year program.
I can find no way to measure the tremendous experience I have had in the course of spiritual formation.
In the summer of 1996, I traveled to a popular Marian shrine at Medjugorje, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. During my visit, I met a married couple, Patrick and Nancy Latta, who were originally from Canada and now living in Medjugorje.

I told Nancy that I found my seminarian life very difficult and at times, I felt like giving it all up. Without hesitation, she looked at me straight in the eyes and said to me, "Edward, always remember one thing. God does not want you to do great things, but to do simple things with great love." I felt at that moment, God's infinite mercy and grace. From that day forward, to this present day, I have never again looked back in God's calling to the priesthood."

It is very important to plant the seed of a priestly vocation in our boys and young men. As you read above Father Ed's mom and a young visiting priest asked him if he ever considered being a priest. Of course, they need to be called to the priesthood. But we can only imagine how many men have been called to the priesthood, but they weren't aware of it.

Please pray for more vocations to the priesthood and please pose the same question to the young men you meet "have you ever considered a call to the priesthood?


Anne said...

Love this, Esther! Thanks for posting it and thanks to Fr. Ed and his parents for sharing their story!

Mary N. said...

This is a wonderful story, Esther. A big thank you to Ed and Fr. Ed for sharing it with us.

Maryellen said...

Thanks be to God for Fr. Ed.
I had hopes for a calling of our youngest son, who was still single at age 36. It was my desire, but not his. He was looking for the perfect mate, and he found her 15 years ago.

I thank God for all those who answer the call. Each year, I appreciate the Priesthood more and more - finally coming to grasp how great the call and how great the need.

EC Gefroh said...

Anne, Mary and Maryellen, it is a very inspirational story of a calling, isn't it!

Maryellen, I pray every day for my son. But I have to remember it's God's will and not mine.

Therese said...

Love this post Esther. With 5 sons, I keep on praying for them all to find God's vocation.

Amy said...

I agree with Maryellen. How great the call and need for priests. I appreciate our Priests very much. Thank you for the post.

EC Gefroh said...

Therese and BW of C. God bless!

Anonymous said...

This is so funny, because I have a picture of Father Sousa and pray for him everyday!

Admin said...

God has a plan for each of us...if we're willing to listen.

Thanks for sharing these stories. So encouraging!

EC Gefroh said...

So true Joni!

A. so glad you are praying for Father Ed!