St. Jude the Apostle asked Jesus on the night of the Last Supper, “Master, what happened that You will reveal Yourself to us and not to the world?” (John 14:22)
Jesus spent the rest of the evening explaining to him and the others that it would be their job, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to make Him known to the ends of the earth.
That responsibility continues to be handed down to every generation in the waters of Baptism and in a particular way through the ministerial Priesthood.
Hundreds of people will call upon St. Jude’s intercession during this year’s diocesan Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be held on Saturday, March 14, in the Cathedral of St. Joseph, 2305 W. Main St. in Jefferson City.
All are encouraged to spend part of the day praying for vocations, especially to the diocesan Priesthood for this diocese.
The featured speaker will be Dominican Father Patrick Tobin, former associate pastor of St. Thomas More Newman Center parish in Columbia, who is now chaplain of the Dominican National Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago (www.the-shrine.org).
The day begin with Mass at 8 a.m.
Exposition and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament will take place from 8:30 to 5:15 p.m.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A relic of St. Jude will be displayed in the chapel for private prayer from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
“You can use that as an opportunity to address him directly and ask him to assist you with his prayers,” Fr. Tobin noted.
Fr. Tobin will give a reflection at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight will offer the closing Mass at 5:30 p.m.
Hope and witness
St. Jude Thaddeus is one of Catholics’ most revered saints and called-upon intercessors.
He is often referred to as “the patron saint of hopeless or impossible cases,” but Fr. Tobin asserted that he is more accurately a patron saint of hope.
“For a lot of people, he is an embodiment of the supernatural hope that all Christians have, that we are co-heirs with Jesus Christ and that God has created a dwelling for us with Him for all eternity,” said Fr. Tobin.
In addition, St. Jude accepted the crown of martyrdom for preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.
“So in the person of St. Jude, we really see two fundamental realities of our faith: the supernatural hope in salvation, and the need to give witness and testimony to the Gospel,” said Fr. Tobin.
That makes St. Jude an ideal catalyst for a Day of Prayer for Vocations.
“And having a physical manifestation of him present focuses our attention on the fundamental truths of our universal Christian vocation,” said Fr. Tobin.
“Heaven and earth touch”
Fr. Tobin ministered in Columbia for his first two years of Priesthood.
“It’s where I learned to be a priest!” he said. “Believe me, you can take as many seminars as you want on hearing confessions. You can role-play hearing confessions until you’re blue in the face, but nothing compares to actually being there in the confessional, hearing confessions.”
Likewise, he said, there’s no substitute for leading a retreat with college students who are experiencing a genuine encounter with the Lord in the sacrament of Reconciliation, or for offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
“You actually have to be in front of people, preaching and celebrating the Eucharist, and somehow tuning-out all the distractions so you can prayerfully engage in this participation in the Last Supper and in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus,” he said.
That’s what happened for Fr. Tobin in this diocese.
While at the Newman Center, he often called attention to the stained-glass image behind the sanctuary in the chapel.
“It depicts the meeting of heaven and earth, which is what happens during every Eucharistic Liturgy,” he said. “The veil between time and eternity becomes a little less obscure.”
Fr. Tobin completed a doctorate in chemistry, intending to teach, before entering religious life and discerning a call to Priesthood.
His formators asked him when he applied to the Dominicans, “Can you be joyful and fulfilled in your vocation without ever teaching chemistry?”
“My answer was an unequivocal ‘yes,’” he said. “Because my chemistry studies formed me. Intellectually, I am deeply indebted to the training I received as a chemist for my problem-solving abilities.”
Fr. Tobin did get to teach chemistry after leaving Columbia, while also serving as a chaplain for six years at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“I was the only priest in science and engineering,” he noted. “My nickname was ‘Father Doctor.’”
His Dominican superiors appointed him to his current post in Chicago in 2018.
“Basically, I’m in charge of celebrating the sacraments, preaching and praying for patrons and visitors to the Shrine of St. Jude,” he said.
He’s also carrying on the work of his classmate, Dominican Father Michail Ford, who preceded him at the shrine and is now ministering in Columbia at the Newman Center.
“He correctly intuited that changes in the world require a change from the destination mindset that waited for people to come to us, to being more mission-oriented and trying to reach more people ‘out there,’” said Fr. Tobin.
He’s been ramping up the shrine’s online and social media presence and inviting more people to turn to St. Jude as a worthy prayer partner in heaven.
“At the heart of the Shrine of St. Jude and devotion to St. Jude is intercessory prayer,” he noted.
Also at the shrine, Fr. Tobin and fellow Dominicans are working on ways to use technological communication — which has contributed to the breakdown of relationships within society — to draw people together in prayer and face-to-face fellowship.
Fr. Tobin acknowledged that not everyone is comfortable using relics of saints as a catalyst for prayer and devotion — and that’s quite all right.
“The Church, in her wisdom, offers us a whole spectrum of ‘tools,’ if you will, to grow in our relationship with God,” he said. “She says to us, ‘Down through the centuries, we have found this to be a beneficial practice. If it helps you on your spiritual journey, go for it. If it doesn’t, try something else.’”
Last spring, hundreds of people stood in the cathedral to offer prayers to God in the presence of the heart of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests.
It was a tangible reminder that all people, including saints, first exist in flesh and blood in this physical realm before God summons them to the next life.
“When I talk to people about the physicality of the faith and how relics fit into that, I remind people that we are not truly human in heaven until we have been united with our resurrected body,” said Fr. Tobin.
“We are actually deficient in that way from the time of our death and our particular judgment until the Second Coming of Christ, the Final Judgment and the Resurrection of the Body,” he said.
“That’s how integral the human body is to the human experience,” he said. “That’s true for the saints, and it’s true for all of us who want to be saints someday.”
The motto for the diocesan Vocation Office, which is sponsoring this Day of Prayer, is “Called to Sainthood.”
For information about the event, write to email@example.com.