Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vocations Among Us

My latest missive for the Telegraph:

Vocations Among Us

One of the key moments in my own vocation was several years before I even thought about the possibility that I might even be called to the priesthood.  But looking back now, without this event, I would have never even considered the possibility.  At the time, however, it was just another event that I was honored to be a part of.

My junior year of high school, a son of my home town was ordained to the priesthood for the Congregation of the Holy Cross.  As he was my oldest sister's brother-in-law and needed extra servers for his Mass of Thanksgiving, my twin brother and I were volunteered to assist; which we gladly did.  I can still see the joy on the face of a newly ordained priest, years of study, prayer and hard work had culminated in this event; and even though I would not have been able to articulate it at the time, this became a key moment for me in looking towards the priesthood.

A year later, as my class was graduating and heading off to college, I learned that someone I knew from the neighboring town was entering seminary.  Hmmm.....   Men really do still do this.  As I made my way through my own first year of college life, I recognized my own priestly calling through the ongoing example of the priests at the Campus Ministry and entered the seminary for my second year of college.  I never really looked back since.

These recollections are not merely to fill space, but serve to highlight a very simple, yet vitally important point in the cultivation of a spirit of vocations within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.  With both Archbishop Schnurr and Archbishop Pilarczyk (and now including Bishop Binzer in the discussion), we are convinced that there are vocations to the priesthood in our midst, sitting near you every Sunday at Mass, passing you on the street corner, riding the bus home from school.  We just need to find them, encourage them, help them to discover this pearl of great price to which they have been called.

With this recognition, throughout the month of January as we went from National Vocation Awareness Week to the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, the Vocation Office has been recognizing the stories of local men and women who have answered the call and are now serving as religious, priests, or still in training to be so.  I invite you to visit www.cincinnativocations.org to peruse these stories.

In reading through them, I am struck that there is no common theme besides faithfulness.  There is no 'magic pill,' as it were, for families to do which inspired a vocation.  There is no simple recipe that will automatically bring your son to be a priest.  In these vocation stories, the life-long cradle Catholic is positioned side by side with converts from atheism.  Families who were wonderfully supportive are contrasted with a few who nearly disowned their daughter or son for entering the seminary or convent.

Yet, even with the disparate versions of these stories, three common themes present themselves: faithfulness, prayer, and trust.  As we move deeper into Ordinary Time and once again enter into the great season of Lent; perhaps these three dimensions are once again being called to the fore in your family as God continues to form us all to be more like His Son.  And if God calls one of your sons or daughters to the priesthood or religious life, trust that He truly does know what is best.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I realize the main focus here is vocations to the priesthood, but wonder if there are any programs for lay people who are seeking to unite their vocation as father and spouse, worker, to their faith. I find many men and women in their 30- 50's range who have careers, marriage, family, friend, and yet look around and question how do I make my Catholic faith part of all of this to bring new strength and meaning to my entire life.

I think a program on connecting the dots would serve a great purpose as many in this age bracket are also separated from the Church or only slightly connected and poorly educated on the faith as well. this leaves them open to the protestant megachurches who seem to focus on how to unite their lives under their faith. Curious.