Seven Ordinations to Priesthood: Fr. Gould's Final Vocations Gift
When seven men processed into the Cathedral of St. Thomas More on June 10 they were a living testimony to a spiritual father who was there at the beginning. The ordination class of 2006 was the last class of Fr. James Gould’s men. During his fifteen years as Vocations Director (1985-2000) Fr. Gould aimed to bring in ten new vocations a year. He rarely failed.
In an interview with author Michael Rose published in Priest: Portraits of Ten Good Men Serving the Church Today, Fr. Gould described his prescription for success. “Unswerving allegiance to the Pope and magisterial teaching; perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in parishes, with an emphasis on praying for vocations; and a strong effort by a significant number of diocesan priests who extend themselves to help young men remain open to the Lord's will in their lives.” Father looked for men who exhibited the “four marks of a vocation: “prayer, generosity, hard work, and sacrifice. "The greatest malady in the priesthood today,” he told Rose, “is not 'liberals' or 'conservatives.' It's laziness and indifference. In this age of 'collaborative ministry' with the laity, many priests may have slipped away from the meaning of hard work. They don't do house calls. They don't teach CCD. They don't visit the grammar school, and they don't teach RCIA - and that's a problem."”Early on Father recognized that homosexuals don’t belong in the priesthood. “Some of them would get past me during the interview process, and once or twice we had to dismiss a candidate because of homosexual activity,” he told Rose. “Wherever there's a faith problem, there's a moral problem. Wherever there's a moral problem, there's a faith problem. That's a rule of the confessional.” In that respect he pointed out that dissent is also a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
Father gives primary credit for the many vocations in Arlington to the prayer apostolate of the Poor Clares and the unfailing support of the first two bishops of Arlington, Thomas Welsh and John Keating. It was Bishop Welsh, himself a seminary rector at one time, who invited the Poor Clares to found a monastery in the diocese. Bishop Keating had the distinction of defending the honored practice of male altar servers seeing them as his “farm team” for growing vocations to the priesthood.