By Father John Donovan/ SUN contributing writer
January 9-15, 2005 is Vocation Awareness Week, dealing specifically with the call to service in Consecrated Life and Diocesan Priesthood. Thus, in this issue of the Catholic Sun there is a center supplement on the variety of ministries and backgrounds of those who are responding to Consecrated Life and Diocesan Priesthood. It is worth the read.
As I was writing this piece, a mother of a young teen called because her son has mentioned the possibility of being a priest more than a few times. She simply wanted to know what she could do to encourage and nurture a possible vocation if that truly is God’s call for her son. Pray, expose her son to a variety of activities so that he may be well rounded, pray, present a variety of ministries in the Church while encouraging active involvement in the parish, pray, be model of love and compassion, pray, encourage friendships and finally, pray. I thought you should know this, because this is a responsibility we share and actions we should all be engaged in as a Church. Yet, we do not often think of these things as vocation awareness until the question is asked.
Our religious and clergy are clearly graying. Although chronologically gifted, and at times fatigued, their lives are not stagnated but instead, dynamic. Their ministry is that of proclaiming the living, the One not amongst the dead. Their lives are to be symbols of hope, peace and compassion, in humble service. It is not something that is done and decided upon once, but a life changing commitment that requires a continuously evolving response. It is the maturation of a relationship with God that allows one to respond yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Maturity does not preclude innocence. We are all called to be childlike in our trust of God, yet be responsible adults who accept the challenges posed in each person’s life to grow in character and wisdom. Not to be guileless or hapless, but rather open to the possibilities that God presents to us with enthusiasm and optimism.
What then do we do in a Vocation Awareness Week? We remind ourselves of the possibility and necessity for leadership and witness through Consecrated Life and Diocesan Priesthood. To teach our young, pray with our old and encourage the possibility among those we recognize as displaying the characteristics described above. Who has asked the question: have you ever considered being a priest or religious? Do our young people know that it can be a viable option in their lives? Do our parishes and homes encourage those who may have expressed curiosity or interest?
Again the question; have you asked or been asked: have you ever considered being a priest or religious? Have you asked a priest, sister or brother, what led them to the commitment of service they have made? Have you asked, what is God calling me to or encouraged young people to ask that in their life’s discernment? So the bottom line of what is Vocation Awareness Week is to know our responsibility to ask questions, of one another, our leaders, and our young. When the question then arises, what are we doing to encourage vocations to Consecrated Life and Diocesan Priesthood, our response must be: “Who asked?!”