The New Face of the Catholic Church
Younger and higher quality candidates taking the challenge of priesthood
By Terence J. Downing, Enterprise staff writer
TAUNTON Jan. 30, 2006 (enterprisenews.com) — Gregory Bettencourt says there are times when he wonders if he is doing the right thing.
After all, the decision he has made to become a Catholic priest will affect the rest of his life.
And Bettencourt is entering the priesthood in the wake of recent clergy abuse scandals that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston and parishes across the country.
"There are times when I stop and think, 'Am I really doing the right thing? What are things going to be like when I become a priest? Am I ready for this? What am I getting into?' " said Bettencourt. "It's a difficult environment today for priests for many reasons."
But Bettencourt — a 27-year-old seminarian on a pastoral internship at his home parish of Holy Family Church in East Taunton — is convinced the priesthood is attracting higher quality candidates in the aftermath of the abuse crisis.
"The men coming in today are men who recognize the difficulties in the church and know they have a calling and the character to serve," said Bettencourt. "They are men who recognize what is ahead of them and feel an obligation to serve."
At Holy Family Church, his job is to shadow the Rev. Jay T. Maddock, the pastor, and assist him in all duties, short of saying Mass. Bettencourt, who lives at the rectory, can give Communion.
"The idea is to get a feel of what it will be like being a priest," said Bettencourt, whose internship began July 1 and runs until July 31 of this year.