by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — If archdiocesan vocations director Father Dan Morris seems a little more upbeat than usual lately, there’s a good reason why.
The vocations office began showing its own, locally produced video “I Will Give You Shepherds” soon after National Vocations Week, Nov. 7-13, 2021. He hopes the video will spark inspired conversations in homes, parishes and schools about vocations to the priesthood.
The 16-minute video, which can only be seen on YouTube by searching “I will give you shepherds,” was made by Michael McGlinn of Sistine Films in Kansas City, Missouri. One version is in English, one in Spanish and another with subtitles.
The video features veteran priest Msgr. Raymond Burger; newly ordained Father Keith Chadwick, Father Luke Doyle and Father Thomas Maddock; director of faith formation Deborah Nearmyer and president Andrew Tylicki from St. James Academy in Lenexa; and Thomas and Jeanne Doyle, parents of Father Doyle.
“The inspiration to do a film really came about when we realized the three men we ordained [this year] had a common story,” said Father Morris. “Initially, that was simply that two of the guys would be the first graduates of St. James Academy to be ordained to the priesthood.”
Although Father Chadwick and Father Maddock had been students, Father Doyle — a graduate of Hayden High School in Topeka — had taught at the academy.
In discussions with Nearmyer and Tylicki on how to celebrate the ordinations, the idea for a video came up. Not a little video shot with a smartphone, but a high-quality video made with cinematographic technique.
“I had been in contact with filmmaker Michael McGlinn of Sistine Films . . . the great-nephew of the late Father Charles McGlinn,” said Father Morris. “He’s a Catholic filmmaker who does Catholic work through and through.
“I approached him and said we’d like to capture the story. . . . Before we knew it, we realized it was not about St. James Academy; it was much bigger.”
It really came down, he continued, to answering the question asked in the film: “What was going on in the homes that these three guys came out of that helped cultivate their vocation to the priesthood?”
That would be the “homes” of their family, their school, their parish — and ultimately, the homes of their hearts.
The name of the video came from another major inspiration, the 1992 apostolic exhortation of St. John Paul II, “I Will Give You Shepherds” (“Pastores Dabo Vobis”), itself a quote from the Book of Jeremiah (3:15).
The video wasn’t shot with a script, said McGlinn, director and co-producer with Father Morris. Rather, shooting the video became a process of revelation. It took nine months to put it together.
“What Father Morris and I discussed, and what we’re always looking for, is the dramatic focus of the film,” said McGlinn. “It’s something you have to discover as you go through the process, because you’re listening for what the Holy Spirit wants. Ultimately, it was revealed to me in editing that this film is about the action of the Holy Spirit primarily realized in families.
“Once I had that clarity in mind, it was very simple to put the film together and edit it, because I had the dramatic focus.”
Tom and Jeanne Doyle thought the video was wonderful and were pleased to talk about vocations and their son.
“It gave us a chance to tell the story about Luke and the need to have families involved in vocations,” said Tom Doyle, a member of Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka.
“My wife and I truly believe vocations — of marriage, the priesthood or religious life — come from holy families,” he added. “We want to promote that. People, especially nowadays, seem to not want to take the responsibility of what has been given to us by God, to raise our children for him.”
Already, Father Morris has gotten some good feedback. He showed it to some students in theology classes at St. James, and the message seemed to hit close to home, because they were sitting in the same classrooms where two of the newly ordained men once sat.
Also, an eighth-grade boy, attending a Serra Club meeting in Atchison, said he was really struck that priests don’t have to come from perfect families. And Father Morris heard that one young man from Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas, who is considering a vocation, literally shed tears and said, “Wow, I didn’t realize how many people impacted one vocation.”
“This has the potential to bear a lot of fruit,” Father Morris said.