Did you ever think about it?
When I was a child, my father was convinced I’d be a nun someday. All thought it was amusing at the time. And I sure never seriously considered it. But now, looking at it from the other end of the age spectrum, I suppose it was something I might have considered, had I had the encouragement of my parish priest and the Franciscan Sisters of my parish.
Vocations to religious life are not for everyone. Much thought and prayer and generous spiritual guidance from one’s family and their parish priest can/should be instrumental in such a life changing decision.
Consequences if we do nothing
We know, there is a severe shortage of priests in the United States. However, as many know from the Beacons of Light within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, a need to ensure all parishes have a pastor has resulted in the need to “family” parishes.
There are many within the Archdiocese who struggled and may still be struggling with the acceptance of Beacons of Light, for various reasons. Many don’t like change. Others love their pastors/priests and have not adjusted well to loss of their pastor to another parish. And still others don’t’ likely realize the tremendous shortage of priests, and that if some action wasn’t taken, the day could very well come when some parishes had no priest at all.
Many devoted to our parishes, pastors and priests can’t understand “why us”? Many parishes are healthy financially and spiritually. Many have a healthy parishioner base. So why was everyone affected? Lots of questions were asked and the answers weren’t always prayerfully accepted by the many Catholics of the Archdiocese.
Jesus is guiding us forward
However, the process is well underway, and the families of parishes are making strides. Some parishes are further along than others. But ultimately it comes down to a shortage of priests for the near and long term.
But it is not just a shortage of priests, but religious brothers and sisters as well. How would your family react if you told them you wanted to join the priesthood or become a nun? Some know if they have heard the calling; and if so, one shouldn’t be afraid to pursue their heart.
We need you
How can you know? And how can you know for sure the religious life is what Jesus wants for you? You likely can’t know for sure, but here are some things to think about in attempting to make that decision:
Talk to those who are consecrated religious already. Hear their story. Googling it doesn’t work. You need to hear the personal story of one you trust. Perhaps your parish priest, or a nun you know or see at mass on occasion could provide some insight as to why they chose religious life.
National Vocations Week is in November in 2023, but it should not just be limited to one week a year. We need religious as the “Face of Jesus” in our lives. Thinking/Praying about vocations can/should be done all year.
There is a joy in God’s calling you to a vocation, so let’s not let a shortage of priests be the primary reason. Consider it for the right reason.
Yes, we need more priests to be called, but it is not just priests, but also Catholics for all vocations. I am the person I am today because of Father Danielak, Sisters Joann, Jennifer, Paulette, and Margaret Mary. I’ll bet many of us could say the same thing.
Adopt a seminarian. Choose one of your seminarians in your diocese and pray for him by name, write him a note and invite him to your parish.
Did you know that 90% of priests ordained in 2020 were encouraged to consider the priesthood by a priest, friend, or fellow parishioner? Something to remember.
Are you ready?
As I said earlier, being a priest or another member of the clergy is not for everyone,
Is it for you?
We pray O Lord to You and to St. John Vianney, your Patron Saint of Parish Priests, for more dedicated, holy priests, deacons, and consecrated men and women. May those considering religious life receive inspiration and courage from You to make this most prayerful and difficult choice. As young boys and men consider being “The Face of Jesus” here on earth, and Your co-workers in guiding the many people throughout the world, may they be supported by us, their parish family, and respond generously to God's gift of vocation as they consider the sacrament of The Priesthood. And may those who also consider becoming a Sister, Deacon or other Religious be guided by Your grace to make this life changing decision.
We need them.
And they look to You for divine guidance.