By Father John Donovan/ SUN contributing writer
Sunday is World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Throughout the world we are asked by our Holy Father to pray that people respond specifically to the ministerial vocations of Consecrated Life and Diocesan Priesthood. A very simple task we are charged with, yet because it may seem so removed from the people we know, it does not receive the attention it may need.
In visiting parishes and schools I am often asked what response did I receive when I told family and friends that I was entering the seminary. I recall clearly what it was, without exception, friends and co-workers alike, laughed hysterically. Some more than others of course, and “timing” in telling people mattered as well. For you see, I think I am a pretty funny guy [often having been quoted saying “I am one of the funniest people I know;” and quite honestly I do crack myself up, humble too] and am accustomed to people laughing “with me.” Thus I vividly remember the howls of astonishment and I recognized the uneasiness of people laughing at me. When their cackling subsided, however, equally without exception, they expressed support and encouragement. I was very fortunate.
The uneasiness during the laughter was actually on their part not mine. Most people were astonished that one like themselves, one of the crowd, would even consider being a priest. People who did that were supposed to be the other guys, who were imagined to be different, really different from the rest. Hey, this guy is a die-hard Yankee fan, listens to the same music we listen to, has a job, does household chores and couldn’t pass French, like us! There was a general surprise, and also an epiphany that the question, “what does God call me to” could be asked and should be asked by any and all.
Praying for vocations to Consecrated Life and Diocesan Priesthood are important, but there needs to be a realization with it that it is not about faceless strangers. We need to be able to ask in our parishes, schools, and especially our homes; “what is God calling me to?” The first step in prayer for vocations is understanding that our young people need to be able to pose that question and that we pose it with them. It is essential in our efforts to encourage and to pray for vocations, that we each take the responsibility of extending the invitation or in some cases, discern the question; “God what are you calling me to?”
Thus, join me, on Sunday, April 17 in prayer for vocations to Consecrated Life and Diocesan Priesthood. Join me too, in asking people you know; “what is God calling you to?” For it is not always the stranger that is going to respond, it is one of the crowd. You may be surprised that the thought has occurred to them, and your question may be the encouragement needed.
Any and every day, laugh as you may, but support, pray and invite, young people to join me!