Father George Sears, administrator of Holy Name of Jesus-St. Gregory the Great parish in Manhattan, has been named director of vocations for the archdiocese. He will remain administrator of the parish.
Cardinal Dolan has also appointed 15 regional vocation promoters who will work with Father Sears to bolster vocations in the archdiocese while also remaining in their current assignments.
Cardinal Dolan commissioned the priests into vocations service at a luncheon Oct. 28 at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie. Also attending were Auxiliary Bishops Gerardo Colacicco and Edmund Whalen and Msgr. Joseph LaMorte, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese. Afterward, the regional vocation promoters met with Father Sears to discuss their mission.
“Thank you very much for being here but especially thank you for your generous willingness” to be part of “a rather promising and exciting” vocation project for the archdiocese, the cardinal said in his remarks.
“We need you very, very much, and you were chosen specifically.”
The cardinal told the priests their major work in promoting vocations will be “one-on-one personal accompaniment” by a priest who is “happy and confident and joyful in his vocation,” which vocations data shows is a successful formula.
“The Church is recovering a pastoral strategy that goes back to the shores of the Sea of Galilee,” Cardinal Dolan explained. “That even though Jesus spoke to thousands, He called one by one.”
The cardinal thanked Father Sears, citing his “radiant curriculum vitae” in priestly formation. “And he was a natural to take over vocations.”
Father Sears, who was ordained for the archdiocese in 2005, served as rector of the Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, Queens, from 2017 to this past June. He also was acting rector, vice rector and dean of students there.
He was pastor of St. Mary’s, Poughkeepsie, 2012-2015, and previously was administrator there for a year. He served as parochial vicar of St. Rose of Lima and Our Lady of Esperanza, Manhattan, 2006-2011, and Our Lady of Angels, the Bronx, 2005-2006.
Father Sears, in an interview with CNY at the commissioning ceremony, reflected on his new role as vocations director. “Being the rector of a college seminary beforehand, I know how important this is...So it’s really good to walk with them on their journey.
“In doing that, I also feel I can relive all the best parts of my own journey. So that’s something beautiful.”
The regional vocation promoters will identify young men who are serious about their relationship with Christ and desire to follow where He may call, and refer men who think that God is calling them to priesthood to the director of vocations.
Regarding the need for a regional model to promote vocations, Father Sears acknowledged “we have a very big archdiocese ...it’s got to be a personal approach.”
Positioning regional vocation promoters throughout the archdiocese where men “share a meal with them, pray with them,” Father Sears said, and those priests share their own stories and what their own experience was in answering the call to the priesthood, makes for a personal approach. “Kind of like the way Jesus did with His disciples,” Father Sears said.
The regions are divided geographically. “We try to have a few priests in every county,” he said.
Gatherings would include hosting a weekly Holy Hour and dinner.
A pilot program has already begun at St. Raymond parish, the Bronx, under the direction of Father James Cruz, the pastor.
“Now we’re a month in; we’ve been having it every week on Tuesdays—the Holy Hour and the dinner,” Father Sears said. And for that “small group of men...six or seven...it feels like home for them.”
The gathering also gives the men an opportunity to “ask some serious questions about what does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?” Father Sears said.
The regional vocation promoters for the archdiocese are: