Msgr. Doskey was a mentor and pastor to us all

aymond    You celebrated the funeral Mass for Msgr. Clinton Doskey last week at St. Pius X Church. He was a beloved priest and pastor. What are your memories of him?
    I first met him when I was a seminarian at St. Ben’s. He came over to talk to us about the Social Apostolate and about the church’s care for the poor. I was involved in the Social Apostolate at the seminary at the time. Through that meeting and many times afterward, I just looked up to him as a great pastor, as a dedicated priest, as someone who loved the poor. He also had a great love for women religious, which I’m sure was fostered in part by his sister, Betty, who is a Dominican sister. I often thought to myself that if I could just be half the priest that he was, I’d be doing pretty well. In coming back to New Orleans almost three years ago, I was edified by his warm welcome and his continued service as a retired priest. I was edified by seeing him accept his illness as a natural part of life. He was able to walk with that cross, and it seemed to me he never complained or felt sorry for himself. He continued to do ministry whenever he could, in spite of his weakness.
    Some said even though he was a canon law expert, he was motivated by a deep pastoral sense.
    He was very well versed in the theology of the church and in canon law, and he always had a unique ability to follow the law and the teachings of the church and to explain it in such a way that it showed a care for people. That invited people closer to Christ. That’s a real gift  and an example that many of us priests and seminarians could learn from.
    When a beloved priest dies, thoughts always turn to who might be able to pick up his chalice. How are vocations in the archdiocese?
    At the present time, we have 33 seminarians, and we gathered with them and their families on Good Shepherd Sunday at St. Louis Cathedral. Our vocations director, Father Steve Bruno, is working with about 10 other men who have expressed a definite interest in the priesthood. We don’t know if all of them will apply, but it’s certainly a hopeful sign. This month, I will ordain five men to the transitional diaconate, and in June, I will ordain four men to the priesthood. And next year, God willing, we will have another four or five ordinations to the transitional diaconate. We’ve also just announced the opening of new discernment house for women at St. Rita in New Orleans, and about five women have expressed interest in that. The word is getting around. As I’ve said many times, I believe the ground for vocations is very fertile in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. God wants to use us to awaken his call. He’s not going to do this by himself – though he could. He will use us to foster vocations by inviting people to think about it and also by prayer. I am very hopeful that vocations are increasing and that more people are responding. I ask everyone to pray specifically  for vocations from their own parishes. I believe that in every parish there is at least one young man or woman who is being called.
    How did the idea of a women’s discernment house come up?
    In moving around the archdiocese, I met some young women who were asking some important questions about religious life. We had a discernment house for men, but we didn’t have one for women. I talked to Sister Sylvia Thibodeaux, who is the head of religious in the archdiocese, and she thought it was a good idea that we should pursue. We were using the top floor of the St. Rita Church offices for the discernment house for men. When the old convent in the back of Notre Dame Seminary became available again, I thought it would be good to move the men’s house of discernment there, and then that would give us the freedom to use St. Rita for the women. We’ll be announcing very soon the two sisters – from different religious communities – who will direct the house of discernment.
    On May 6 you will also highlight the lay vocation when you give the Order of St. Louis Medallion to people who have done incredible work for their individual parishes over the years.
       Lay people always had an important place in the church, but Vatican II highlighted the role of laity. The role is not one of passivity or spectatorship but one of participation. Some laypersons are called to leadership and to share in ministry. It’s an honor for me to offer recognition to those who have excelled in humble service and servant leadership. The U.S. bishops wrote a document called “Lay Ecclesial Ministry: Co-workers in the Vineyard of the Lord.” I  love that expression. Right after Pope Benedict XVI’s election, he said, “I am a co-worker in the vineyard of the Lord.” That indicates that all of us who share in ministry are co-workers with him. It’s a privilege to be able to thank these people for their dedication and, in many ways, their sacrifice.
    You also are doing a groundbreaking in Kenner for the new Divine Mercy Church, which has been a long time in coming.
    This means a great deal. My heart really goes out to these parishioners. For decades they have had many obstacles, but now it is finally happening. They have persevered. They have not given up. They are loyal parishioners who have stood by. This is a very joyful celebration. It’s a privilege for me to be with them. We will not be just turning the soil but also turning the page. We are starting a new chapter as they begin construction on their church.
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond can be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.
 

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