November 3, 2017

Editorial

Keep vocations in prayer, be mindful of your witness

If your parish is like most, there are prayers consistently offered for more vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life.

And if the Holy Spirit is at work, you may have witnessed firsthand a parishioner discerning and answering a call to such a vocation.

Though secularism continues to be an ever-growing challenge in our society, we witness people of faith persist in listening to God’s call.

The Church in the United States is celebrating National Vocations Awareness Week on Nov. 5-11, and in this week’s issue of The Criterion on pages 9-16, we have included a special supplement featuring stories where a priest, religious sisters and religious brothers, deacon and seminarian share their stories about serving God’s people in their chosen ministry.

On page 1, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson also goes in-depth with reporter Sean Gallagher in reflecting on his life of faith. Though we touched on his vocation journey when he was named our shepherd in June, the archbishop sheds even more light on a life-changing experience that led him to answer God’s call to serve the Church as a priest.

As in years past, National Vocations Awareness Week is sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, and is a special time for parishes in the United States to actively foster and pray for a culture of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life. It is also designed to help promote vocation awareness, and to encourage young people to ask the question: “To what vocation in life is God calling me?”

Parish and school communities across the nation are encouraged to include prayer and special activities that focus on vocation awareness. Thankfully, many parishes and schools in central and southern Indiana already do this.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, reminds us that each of us in the Church has a key role to play in the witness of our vocation in ordinary circumstances: “As we go about our everyday life and most especially this week, we must keep vocations in our prayers, while, at the same time, being a mindful witness with our own vocation.

“We may never know how our lives may have an impact on someone else’s story,” continued Cardinal Tobin, who served as the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for four years before being appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., last fall. “Simply living out our call as disciples of Jesus Christ fully and joyfully in the world bears witness to the love of Christ as he generously bestows on each of us our own personal call.”

As Archbishop Thompson has said on more than one occasion since he was appointed to lead the Church in central and southern Indiana, each of us must heed Pope Francis’s call to be missionary disciples.

Being a missionary disciple means leading others to Christ. We can do that for some people in our lives by encouraging them to consider a vocation to the priesthood, diaconate or religious life.

In his column on page 9 of the Vocations Supplement, Father Eric Augenstein, archdiocesan director of vocations, encourages people of faith—as they discern their vocation in life—to grow in their relationship with God by “wasting time” with him.

“Wasting time is at the heart of vocational discernment, because in order to hear the voice of God calling us to follow him, we have to spend time with him in a way that filters out the other voices and noises that compete for our attention,” Father Augenstein said. “The first call—the first vocation—is always to be a disciple. Then, the more we waste time with God, we can hear the second call—the second vocation—to the priesthood, marriage, consecrated life, diaconate, or a sacred single life. It all starts and ends with prayer—wasting time with God. It’s the best way we can spend our time.”

—Mike Krokos

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