|July 10, 2017 • VOL. 55, NO. 13 • Oakland, CA|
When the call comes, he'll help you answer
"The call was very clear," Rev. Wayne Campbell said. "But we have ways of deflecting it."
After 31 years of parish ministry, with assignments in St. Joachim in Hayward, St. John Vianney in Walnut Creek, St. Leander and St. Felicitas in San Leandro and, most recently, at St. Monica in Moraga, he has become director of vocations and director of seminarians for the Diocese of Oakland.
"As a high school kid, it was very clear," he said, "but I had no desire to be a priest."
At the age of 17, he joined the Christian Brothers. He left, nine years later, before taking his final vows.
He worked for Eastern Airlines, for 8½ years, moving up management.
"The call never left," he said. "I ignored it." It became very clear to me at Carnival, in Rio de Janeiro, on the same beach the pope celebrated Mass for World Youth Day.
"I went home to Cleveland, I saw a movie about St. Francis, so I joined the Franciscans," he said.
Four of the years he spent with the Franciscans were as retreat director at San Damiano in Danville.
Just before taking life vows, his superiors suggested his vocation was not with them, but as a diocesan priest.
His spiritual director encouraged him "to trust what they're saying."
He interviewed with Bishop John S. Cummins, who was serving as bishop of Oakland at the time. Ordination followed 11 months later.
When Bishop Cummins ordained him on May 24, 1986, Father Campbell was 40.
The lesson of the long journey to the priesthood has stayed with him.
"God uses every bit of your journey and He will wait for you to surrender," Father Campbell said.
His vocation, he said, "has ended up not being what I thought it would be."
"Vocation is not about what you are capable of or not capable of," he said. "Vocation is about God asking you to do something."
The ability to answer the call is challenging in a culture that doesn't support vocations, Father Campbell said.
"The call is there," he said. For people, in any stage of life, he said, "surrender to God is very problematic. What will I have to give up? What will I not have? What will this cost me?"
He had mentors on his journey to the priesthood.
"One of the most influential people in my life was my novice director in the Christian Brothers," he said, "one of the most wholesome, nurturing father mentors who was ahead of his time."
From that era, too, was Father Richard Mangini, recently retired pastor of St. Bonaventure Parish in Concord. "I was a college kid," Father Campbell recalled. "He gave me a ministry at Santa Maria in Orinda. I was a senior in college studying theology."
Later there was his first manager with the airlines, "a Notre Dame grad who had already raised his kid, was so sustaining in nurture."
In his journey as a priest, Father Campbell, in turn, has mentored young men discerning a call to the priesthood. Among them are diocesan seminarian Mario Rizzo, who with Arturo Bazan will be ordained to the transitional diaconate next month, the final step toward the priesthood, a young Dominican and a young Carmelite priest in Alhambra. Another is Rev. Carl Schlichte, OP, a Dominican on a sabbatical year after serving as pastor at St. Mary Magdalen in Berkeley.
As vocations director, Father Campbell will have the opportunity to mentor others. He is delighted to be working already with men who are discerning a vocation.
"Do I get a chance to help someone along the way?" he said. "That, to me, is the exciting part about vocation for me: God asked me to bring to this world a bit of something that helps people along the way."
What a vocations director is not, Father Campbell said, is a recruiter.
His role, he said, is to "be a first point of contact after somewhere they have felt a bit of a possible call. My place is to help them see if what they're thinking might be true is, in fact, true. Is it a good fit? Do you have a spiritual director? Do you have someone you can talk to? Do you have a parish you are connected to?"
"We put them in touch with people who can help them along the way," he said.
In his role as director of seminarians, "my job is to help them along the path," he said.
He will be checking in with Diocese of Oakland seminarians at several seminaries this fall, among them St. John's in Boston; St. John XXIII, for late vocations, in Boston; St. Patrick's Seminary University in Menlo Park; and Mount Angel in Oregon.
This summer, he will be getting to know the seminarians entrusted to his care. They are beginning a six-week live-in experience at the convent at St. Bede in Hayward. Seminarians will plan and lead the Quo Vadis Camp at the youth retreat center in Lafayette this month, for teenage boys who are considering a vocation. The seminarians will also make parish visits, have a retreat day, participate in service and attend the Nor Cal Steubenville conference for teens at Cal State East Bay in Hayward later this month.
"It's a time for them to live together and develop how do we live together," he said. "We'll cook our own meals, Mass and prayer every day."
In August, four or five men are expected to enter the seminary.
A vocation director doesn't work alone.
"Every priest, along with the families, has a place in providing for the growth of a vocation," he said.
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