January 13, 2006

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Bishop Bruté House helps support a new ‘culture of vocation’

Sometimes important things happen in small ways and without much fanfare. In late August of 2004, we inaugurated the Bishop Simon Bruté House of Formation at Marian College in Indianapolis for college seminarians. It is a place and a program for young men who wonder whether or not God might be calling them to the priesthood. These young men want and need to decide whether they ought to pursue a priestly vocation.

We are providing a situation and a program where this kind of decision can be made prudently and freely. In its second year, the number of seminarians housed in St. Francis Hall on the campus of Marian College doubled and that may happen again in the fall of this new year.

Actually, the idea of a house of formation emerged from discussions with young men who told us they would appreciate living with like-minded guys while going to college. They said they would appreciate a little structure in their life, particularly for prayer and daily Mass. They also said it would help them to have ready access to priests.

God is smiling on this venture, and we are grateful. In the prayer of dedication, we asked the Lord “that this house may indeed be a school of prayer and a center of divine teaching so that those who come here may discover how God chooses to lead them in service to the Church and the world.”

We prayed that “through prayer these young men may be led by your Spirit to seek the way of your truth, that if you are calling them as future ministers of Christ, they will respond with generous hearts and resolute will.”

We prayed that “here they will grow accustomed to offering spiritual sacrifices, and by celebrating the liturgy, experience the saving power of the sacraments.”

We prayed “that their obedience will lead them to follow the Good Shepherd.”

I make a point of the Bishop Bruté House of Formation because, besides the important work of providing a nearby opportunity for young men to see if God calls them to priesthood in a formation program designed for that purpose, we are experiencing another benefit. I believe that the existence of the Bishop Bruté House of Formation, to be sure, along with our archdiocesan youth ministry program, has enkindled a new “culture of vocation.”

What do I mean by a new “culture of vocation”?

Quite simply, it means that the idea of vocation in general is more noticeably brought to mind for our youth and young adults. I don’t mean to suggest that the vocation to priesthood is the only vocation that comes to mind. The fact that 17 Catholic youth are enrolled in the Bishop Bruté formation program at Marian College has added the value of encouraging other youth and young adults to wonder what specific plan God might have for them.

Our archdiocesan youth program supports this encouragement. Like the Bishop Bruté venture, it helps us communicate that baptism initiates everyone on the way of holiness. Every baptized person is called to live a holy life in some specific way. The more common vocation of Catholics is to live the faith as lay persons, whether married or single, and to do so in the stuff of everyday life.

In addition, some of us are called to be holy as consecrated women or men who live a special witness to the Gospel in the Church and the world. Religious sisters, brothers and priests are a unique gift for the life of the Church. And, of course, some of us are called to be ordained deacons or priests in the ministry of the Church.

The baptismal call to holiness is the foundation of all vocations. For a variety of reasons, awareness of that fundamental call, which is shared by all of us, seems to have been diminished over the years. And with that diminishment went the attentiveness to God’s call to religious and priestly vocations as well. Why has there been a diminishment in the awareness of vocation in general?

The prevailing values of our culture eclipse the spiritual values that foster vocational alertness. We are, as it were, washed in secular and material values that in fact militate against the generous spirit needed for service in the Church and the world. For awhile, not much effort was expended in issuing an invitation to consider the call to holiness in general, and to serve as religious and priests in particular.

Today, many of our youth and young adults are seeking to sidestep excessively materialistic values in search of a deeper meaning in life. Frankly, I find them readily attentive to spiritual direction. With like-minded peers, they signal hope for the future.

They deserve our enthusiastic support! †


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