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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Couple Observations


Have you ever noticed that the things that bug you MOST about other people are also those things that are most endearing? A co-worker and I discussed this today. We have another co-worker who has certain traits that drive us CRAZY, yet when she is absent, we chuckle over them and I realized today that if she DIDN'T do those things...she wouldn't be, well....her! She wouldn't be who she is.

This made me realize that if she left, the things I would remember most fondly about her would be the stuff that drives me crazy now.

When I think back to old friendships, loved ones who have left for eternity, I remember their crazy quirks for those are the things that remain ingrained in my memory, and I thank God for giving them a facet of their personality that will ensure they will never be forgotten.

Priestly Vocations

I keep hearing this crazy myth that young men aren't interested in the priesthood anymore. Have you heard this myth, too?

What amazes me is that, simply isn't true. Part of my job is to assist with interviewing candidates for Confirmation, and as part of that we discuss vocational discernment. Nearly every young man I have interviewed has expressed an interest in the priesthood, albeit some are more serious than others. I always encourage them to pursue where God is calling them and I speak positively about the seminary and the priesthood in general. I also point out to them, if they seem hesitant, that the seminary is just a beginning and that God will lead them. I also speak positively of marriage, of course.

It's always a short conversation and once it's done, I don't return to it, never wanting to pressure anyone. But I find most girls have looked into or think they would consider religious life, or would like more information about it, although the difference for them is that they leave it at "consideration." Overwhelmingly most girls believe they are called to marriage and if pressed to make a decision "now", they would say marriage. Why? They don't know enough about religious life. They don't know any Sisters although they think it's interesting.

There is no "Vocations Crisis".

Vocations are alive and well...the crisis is in the fact we have dropped the ball and haven't presented to our young people all of their options.

It is something we're working on in my place of employment, and if these kids being interviewed are honest, well, it is working. Seeds are being planted. We are doing a lot to promote the priesthood, but it's an uphill battle to promote religious life...simply because it isn't very visible. We can only do so much. A speaker here and there isn't sufficient.

Priests are witnesses by their very presence, immediately identifiable. We don't have Brothers and Sisters running around in habits to provide that same kind of witness. (We don't have any Sisters and Brothers WITHOUT habits running around here, either.) Even with the things we do to expose the kids to religious life, well, if it's not visible in the Church as a whole (in their experience) then it will never be enough to just talk about it on one evening of their life.


We have to do more.


Melody K said...

Many times we have had sisters, brothers, and missionary priests speak before weekend Masses in our parish to raise funds for their work. A couple of weeks ago I had a surprise. A sister from one of the Fransiscan teaching orders got up and asked the young women of the parish to consider a religious vocation. She said she would be available after Mass to answer questions about the work and lives of the sisters of her order. I have lived in this parish for 14 years, and this is the first time I have heard a public appeal from a sister involving vocations rather than donations. This happened to be an order which had an historic presence in the area; back in the day they staffed nearly all the Catholic schools in the county. Many parishioners had great-aunts in the order. Hopefully this will spark some new interest; you are right that young people need to see the presence of religious.

Nan said...

I saw a Brother out in the wild today. He was accompanied by a man dressed in black. Grand & Hamline about 12:30. My guess is that they'd been to Green Mill.

a newly consecrated virgin said...


I’m not disagreeing with you here—I do think that more exposure to religious life would lead to more religious vocations among young women.

But I do want to point out that while we often speak of entering the seminary or a novitiate as though they were roughly equivalent, the vocations of (and the formation programs for) priesthood and religious life are really quite different.

Specifically, when a young man enters a diocesan seminary, his life doesn’t change quite as dramatically as a young woman’s life does when she becomes a postulant in a religious community. For example, a seminarian can generally keep in touch with family and friends as often as his schedule permits, where a religious in formation is usually required to limit the communication she has with people outside her community; a diocesan seminarian often retains strong bonds with the people and places where he grew up, while a novice has to leave her natural family (and maybe also her native region of the country) in order to become a part of her new religious family; seminarians retain their ability to own things (albeit that they usually take on a sort of de facto life of evangelical poverty), while a young religious has to adjust to having absolutely nothing of her own; and so forth.

Also, seminarians remain laymen until their diaconate Ordination, which typically doesn’t happen until they have been in the seminary for at least five or six years. But in some religious communities, young women are considered veritable “religious” and called “Sister” from the day they enter, so in this sense entering religious life could seem like a greater “leap.”

I’m NOT saying this to suggest that we shouldn’t encourage more young women to consider religious life (or to suggest that diocesan seminarians aren’t truly making a sacrificial gift of their lives to the Church!), but rather to point out reasons why young women might seem more apprehensive about discerning a vocation.

Adoro said...

Melody ~ very cool, hope it works!

Nan ~ LOL

ANCV ~ Yes, I know all that and have written of it extensively on my blog...considering that's exactly what I would face. Getting rid of house, car, dog, stuff from hell, the whole bit.

But it's a moot point for 9th and 10th graders, who, truly, for them it IS nearly the equivalent of entering the seminary because they haven't amassed so much.'s not a factor for them because they don't know ENOUGH about religious life to even MAKE any kind of comparison!

Which is why I didn't write about all that in this post. All that you say can't be addressed unless they even begin to SEE it as an option.

I'm talking foundation here, basic elementary "What Does God Want 101" You're at grad-level discernment, so to speak.

Hidden One said...

ANCV, when you speak of the priesthood, you are speaking solely of the priesthood of secular priests, and, more specifically, diocesan priests and seminarians who do not attend strict seminaries. Such seminaries (which noticeably limit outside world contact) for diocesan seminarians do exist. Secular priests who are not diocesan - Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, Oratorians of St. Philip Neri, etc. - often have nigh as much upheaval in their lives as religious. And then there's religious priests.

Maggie said...

It's all about "vocational awareness," I think. I try very hard to infuse my religious ed and youth ministry programs with vocational awareness; that is, helping young men and women to witness and learn about all the different vocations- religious, priesthood, marriage, single life. This way, I hope and pray that they won't immediately dismiss a vocation because they've never heard of it or met someone in that state of life.

God hasn't stopped calling people to priesthood and religious life.... people haven't been as good at answering. But I feel things are getting better. Certainly, the vast majority of women religious in the US are in their 60s or older, but there are many orders thriving (you know far more about this than I!) Similarly with priests, though I'm not quite as familiar with their numbers.