Celebrating the Priesthood and Religious Life

Even when we have "doubt" in our hearts God’s love always prevails.

"Peace is the best thing about following God's will".
-Sr. Theresa Marie, PVMI

It was a blessed experience to not only be able to organize and implement a priestly and religious vocations event, but to also look around the room the other night and see the fruits of our labor; an event that our faith sharing group, the Sons and Daughters of Mary, had been planning since last September. How did we get here? Can this really be happening that high school teens who are discerning the priesthood and religious life are before me and are publicly admitting their interest in discerning such vocations without fear? I sat there as I watched these excited teens beaming with a smile from ear to ear as they listened to every word of the priests and religious sisters on the panel, and I thought, "Be not afraid," the infamous quote of St. Pope John Paul II. There was a joy that simply radiated around the room.

Rewind back to last July I was volunteering at a Goretti Group event at a parish, and these two older gentleman from another parish approached myself and a friend to ask us if we could accompany them on their journey of planning a vocation event to encourage young people to consider a vocation to the priesthood and to the religious life.  I was quite hesitant to jump into an effort that involved promoting such vocations since in the past the vocation events I had been a part of  had such few attendees. I saw all of the effort that the organizers had put into the planning an event only to be incredibly disappointed when hardly anyone showed up; that was the truth of the matter. There was something stirring inside of me though that kept nudging me to go for it; to use my experience to help especially young women, to not only discern, but to respond to that call, and to find a healthy religious community that of which I was on that same journey myself.  My doubts turned to excitement and motivation, and from agreeing to only help in the background to plan the event to taking a front row seat in the planning process. There were challenges along the way, but I experienced a community within a Church working together for a common cause; promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life. There were times of disagreement and disappointments, but overall we built each other up; we worked together, and we became a spiritual family. Not even being a member of their Church, I felt welcomed, and inspired, and even though they probably do not even realize it at that time I need them much more than they needed me. 

The Vocation Summit was such a blessed success, and to see the teens connecting instantly with the young men and women of the priesthood and religious life was beautiful, and I am confident that although next year I will no longer be around to be a part of the event physically since I am entering religious life myself come September, I will definitely be there on a spiritual level by praying for everyone involved with supporting the priesthood and religious life. Young people often do not get support from their parents at home, as I discovered even just talking with several of the teens at the event and from my own experience, so it is important that Catholic schools and parishes need to be that support system; to let these young people know to "Be not afraid". God is surely calling young people to answer His call, but it is up to us to help them to respond to that call. We need to encourage them to spend time in the silence and listen to the quiet of their own hearts, and to allow the Holy Spirit to work within them. I ask all of you reading this to please pray for these holy vocations even if the priesthood or religious life is not your vocation:

LORD of the Harvest,
BLESS young people with the gift of courage to respond to your call.
Open their hearts to great ideals, to great things.
INSPIRE all of your disciples to mutual love and giving—
for vocations blossom in the
good soil of faithful people.
INSTILL those in religious life, parish
ministries, and families with the confidence
and grace to invite others to embrace
the bold and noble path of a life
consecrated to you.
UNITE us to Jesus through prayer and sacrament,
so that we may cooperate
with you in building your reign of mercy
and truth, of justice and peace. Amen.
— Pope Francis

Adapted from the Message on the 51st World Day
of Prayer for Vocations.


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