Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The nurturing of vocations to the priests, deacons, consecrated men and women and the lay faithful and sacramental married life are vital to the mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ. To be clear, Our Lord asked us to “GO MAKE DISCIPLES… OF ALL NATIONS.” We have had many couples receive the Sacrament of Marriage at St. Joan of Arc. We have many lay faithful seeking to become saints. St. Joan of Arc has never had a priest or religious from our parish.
We know that God calls many young men and women to serve as priests and religious sisters. There is still a shortage of priests and religious in our diocese. Why? There are many reasons for this problem. I would say that the main issue has to do with listening to Our Lord. I believe there is a “crisis of listening.” I often wonder how many people have entered into the wrong vocation and are living a life that is not God’s will for them.
I want our Catholic young people to be happy and choose wisely about their futures. My prayer for young people is that they are seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they choose their paths. My prayer is that they seek to do God’s Will in all things. My prayer is that we provide a parish environment that nurtures authentic discernment of God’s will.
God has a mission for every human person and that mission most often blooms in the family. Pope Benedict once wrote that “We should not forget that Christian marriage is a vocation to holiness in the full sense of the word, and that the example of holy parents is the first condition favorable for the flowering of priestly and religious vocations.”
My parents nurtured one priest to serve the Church. They also cultivated 4 sacramentally married children, all of whom practice their faith. This tells me that despite their flaws (and there were only a few) something in their marriage and child rearing worked.
I can tell you that we weren’t visiting convents and seminaries every weekend. There was no pressure to live our faith in extreme ways. In fact, I do not recall many conversations in our home about discernment to the priesthood or religious life. But what I do recall is that I had intentional parents, setting the stage for all of our vocational questions, uncertainties, and final decisions.
For starters, we simply lived balanced lives. We studied at school and did our homework. We participated in sports, took music lessons and ate dinner together almost every night. We were encouraged to work hard. We had chores at home and then we had jobs once we turned 16. My first paying job was as a busboy. I used to walk to work until I was able to buy a bike. We played together and prayed together as a family. My parent’s helped us understand that the world was bigger than us. Without a doubt, my parents taught me a deep respect for the elderly, the poor, and the forgotten. And we talked about all this and how it related to Our Lord Jesus.
There was an understanding that our religious observance was accomplished as a family. We attended Mass together. My parents showed us the importance of serving Our Lord by serving at Church. To be honest, it was sort of fun getting involved at our Church. We established many lifelong and meaningful relationships at Church with other families who shared our values. All of this set the stage for our discernment. As a young adult, I had a compass to lead me.
The US Catholic Bishops has designated this past week to focus on prayer and awareness of the great need for worthy priestly and religious vocations. Young people need our prayers regarding their vocational discernment. They also need nurturing and mentoring. Finally, they need invitations from you to think about the priesthood and religious life. I assure you, even with its challenges, it’s a wonderful life!
Fr. Don Kline, V.F. PastorBACK TO LIST