Nation vocation awareness week is a week-long celebration to promote and pray for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, consecrated life and sacramental marriage through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations. We invite you to help in building a culture of vocation through the diocese by praying, honoring and fostering vocations.
To Save a Thousand Souls – Fr. Brett Brannen
The Shadow of His Wings – Fr. Gereon Goldmann
Priests for the Third Millennium – Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Discerning Religious Life – by Mother Clare Matthiass, CFR
Discerning the Will of God: An Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Making – by Fr. Timothy M. OMV Gallagher
Discernment Basics — by The Poco a Poco Podcast
“Parents, give thanks to the Lord if He has called one of your children to the consecrated life. It is to be a great honor, as it always has been, that the Lord should look upon a family and choose to invite one of its members to set out on the path of the evangelical counseled? Cherish the desire to give the Lord one of your children so that God’s love can spread in the world What fruit of conjugal love could be more beautiful than this?
“We must remember that if parents do not live the values of the Gospel, the young man or woman will find it very difficult to discern the calling, to understand the need for the sacrifices which must be faced, and to appreciate the beauty of the goal to be achieved. For it is in the family that young people have their first experience of Gospel values and of the love which gives itself to God and to others. They also need to be trained in responsible use of their own freedom, so that they will be prepared to live, as their vocation demands, in accordance with the loftiest spiritual realities.” – Pope John Paul II, Vita Consecrata
Many parents, when their child expresses an interest in seminary or religious life, will dispense well-meaning advice: “Get some life experience first—and at least a college degree—then think about seminary later.” Mom and dad envision that the idea of a vocation will fade away.
The problem is, they may be right. That’s why it’s crucial that when God moves the heart of a young man or woman to explore a vocation, parents should trust God that the timing may be right. True, in some cases an 18-year-old may not be mature enough to enter religious life right out of high school. But many are ready. College seminaries, for example, are places of joy, camaraderie, and deep spiritual growth. Even if your child goes to college seminary and eventually discerns he is not called to priesthood, don’t think he’ll have to “make up for lost time.” Thousands of former seminarians look back on their seminary days with great affection and gratitude!
This is an easy myth to dispel. Priests and religious are often surrounded by people! After all, their job is to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus. They are continually working with parish staff, youth, and a myriad of people who come to them for spiritual advice and help. Seminaries and religious communities today are very deliberate in teaching men and women how to form good, healthy relationships with all people. Sure, there can be lonely moments—but the same is true in any vocation, marriage included. Most priests have healthy friendships with brother priests, lay people, and family that keep them grounded and connected.
For couples who enjoy a healthy and fruitful relationship, it can be difficult to image their son or daughter choosing “life without a spouse.” Society would have us believe that celibacy is impossible, or at the very least, unreasonable. The truth is that sexual love is indeed one of God’s greatest natural gifts, but that thousands of saints have experienced tremendous joy living the supernatural vocation of celibacy. Today’s seminaries and religious communities offer superb formation in how to live celibately with peace and joy.
When a mother of a priest was asked at her only child’s ordination if she was sad she would never have grandchildren, she responded, “It’s not about me.” She was simply grateful that her son had found God’s will for his life. Many parents of priests are surprised to find that they gain “spiritual grandchildren”—thousands of people whose lives have been profoundly influenced by their son’s priesthood. There is a special joy in meeting people who exclaim, “You’re Fr. Jacob’s mother? He’s such a great priest!”
Some parents think that if their son becomes a priest or daughter a religious, they’ll never see them again. One young priest laughed at this idea. “When Thanksgiving rolls around and my brothers and sisters are busy with their children and in-laws, guess what? As a priest, I don’t have any of those ties. It’s me carving the turkey with mom and dad!” His point is that diocesan priests are able to spend a healthy amount of time with family. Religious communities often give ample time to visit home yearly, too.
This is the “umbrella fear” that encompasses all the others. It’s also the easiest to dismiss, because the facts prove otherwise. A number of studies about happiness invariably find one profession ranked number one: clergy and religous. There is even a recent book, based on a very large study, titled “Why Priests Are Happy.” The author, Msgr. Stephen Rosetti, finds that 92% of priests report being happy, and that the key factor in this happiness is an “inner peace.”