ishop Douglas Crosby welcomed three new priests to the diocese on May 4: Fr. Gregory Merkley, left, a Kitchener native who has a commercial pilot’s licence, Fr. John Schnurr, who grew up on a dairy farm in Formosa, Ont., and Vivek Trindade, right, who spent most of his life in India and worked in advertising before starting his formation path. Photo from Diocese of Hamilton

Men of faith ... and signs of hope

By  Fr. Michael King
  • May 24, 2019

It’s easy for a vocations director in North America to get discouraged. 

Vocations to the priesthood have been in decline everywhere in the world except Africa since 2012.

Even in countries where “the numbers are good,” they are not as good as they were prior to 2012. There are doubtless any number of explanations, but none that help a vocation director sleep at night. Nonetheless, there are a few things that give me hope and keep me motivated. 

The first is that two to three men continue to enter seminary as candidates for priesthood in the Diocese of Hamilton every year. I have been struck by the quality of men who enter. They are, without exception, men who love Christ and His Church, and who are willing to tread the path they feel God is calling them to walk, no matter how counter-cultural. 

The second is the high quality of the men who persevere through seminary training and are called by our Bishop to Priestly Ordination. This year’s newly ordained are no exception.

Fr. Greg Merkley radiates kindness and could well be called “Barnabas” (“Son of encouragement”) like Joseph of Cyprus in the Book of Acts, for the encouraging and positive words he has for one and all. He is filled with evangelical zeal and strives to make Jesus Christ and His Church known and loved.

Fr. Vivek Trindade is a man of great spiritual and theological depth. He speaks with a calm and palpable profundity and inspires people with his insight and evident love of God and neighbour.

Fr. John Schnurr makes one think of Our Lord’s words about Nathaniel: “Behold, here is a man without guile.” Fr. John is a man of deep goodness and virtue. He remains dedicated to his family while embracing the wider community of the Church with the heart of a pastor. 

Having gone from being a pilot to a priest, his vocation story is certainly interesting and unusual and is proof that God calls men from all sorts of backgrounds and of many different talents to serve Him in the ministerial priesthood.

Fathers Greg, Vivek and John are signs to me that God has neither abandoned the Church nor given up on the ordained priesthood. 

They especially give me hope that the Church in my own Diocese of Hamilton will continue to be served by priests who love God, the Church, her teachings and sacraments, and who will serve God’s people with kind and generous hearts. 

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