Roman Catholic teachings tell us that a call to a life in the church can still be heard.

But with so much noise and distraction in American culture, it can be hard for young men to hear the voice of God.

Not for the Rev. Adrian Baranyuk. He began his life as priest in the Diocese of Wilmington earlier this month after years of discernment and training.
Baranyuk grew up in the Ukraine during the Communist era, when the practice of Catholicism could mean persecution and prison. He was taught the faith in private by his family and later served as lookout for a priest who secretly celebrated Mass in graveyards, the News Journal reported.

His commitment shows God renewing his church, says the Rev. Joseph Cocucci, director of vocations in the diocese. Both are 29 and bring youthfulness to a diocese where the average age of priests is closer to 60 than 30. Across the nation, dioceses hope for more man like Baranyuk. The number of diocesan priests has been in decline from almost 36,000 in 1965 to 29,000 in 2004.

"Pope John Paul put it very well: without the Eucharist there is no church," says Cocucci. "Without the priest there is no Eucharist."

It's the priestly role to lead the celebration of Mass. And Baranyuk is one of three priests now serving St. John the Beloved in Milltown. With more than 4,000 families, it's one of the largest parishes in the diocese.


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