Anthony Donatelli, a third-year seminarian at Saint Mary Seminary, had an unexpected foreshadowing of his future this past May when he was sent to Gesu Parish to speak about the Heart of a Shepherd campaign. He expected to sit in the first pew, walk up to the microphone after Communion, and talk about the campaign, as he had before at other parishes.
“When I walked into the sacristy before Mass, the pastor asked me to serve and sit at his right side,” says Anthony. He then discovered that about ten second-graders would receive First Communion at thi Mass. “Something was different; I felt the Holy Spirit moving through the pastor and the children. Father Lucas invited me to join him in receiving the gifts and distributing Communion. The invitation was so powerful, like I was being immersed. When it was time for me to talk about Heart of a Shepherd, I didn’t even look at my notes; I just spoke from a place of excitement and gratitude. There was so much love and support from the people! I was invigorated in my vocation.”
Anthony’s parents, Erin and Tony Donatelli have been on board with Heart of a Shepherd since the campaign’s beginnings. Tony served as a campaign cabinet member, and both supported the campaign at their parish, St. Mary, Hudson.
“Of course, this campaign was near and dear to us with Anthony being in the seminary,” says Tony. “But it was even more – it was about knowing God, and loving and serving Him. We have to support our shepherds, those from the past, those who preach and provide the sacraments for us, and the shepherds of the future – seminarians like Anthony. For the Church to continue, we need priests.”
Erin and Tony are amazed at the love and care the Catholics in the diocese have for the young men studying to be priests. “It strikes a spot that God has already placed in our hearts about hope for the future,“ says Erin. “People recognize the beauty of this, and they responded. The campaign represents the hope of the Church moving forward!”