Listening. Discerning. Living. These three words ring out in Pope Francis’ message for the upcoming 55th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations on Sunday, April 22, 2018. The Holy Father reminds each of us that “[w]e are not victims of chance or swept up in a series of unconnected events; on the contrary, our life and our presence in this world are the fruit of a divine vocation!”
When someone begins the journey of searching for his or her proper vocation, it is necessary to listen to the Word of God, discern the mission to which one is called and to live it out in joy once it is discovered.
Following the pope’s recommendation, this year’s Catholic Star Herald Vocations Supplement focuses on those three words: listening, discerning and living. Some of our seminarians share their own experience of trying to listen to the Word of God despite the noise that grows ever louder in our world. A few others write of the art of discerning their mission, their call in life. And living one’s vocation out in joy is given witness through the articles written by a woman religious, permanent deacon and two of our priests.
While ordination to the priesthood does not end one’s listening and discerning, after years of preparation, Deacons Anthony Infanti and Joshua Nevitt certainly look forward to living out the priestly vocation in a few weeks. Their contributions come from their experience, especially during their time as transitional deacons. Deacon Nevitt’s mother provides unique insights into the journey to the priesthood from her maternal perspective. Please, pray for them as they prepare to serve our diocese as its newest priests.
For our seminarians, listening and discerning will continue this summer in varied ways, most especially through ministry in some of our parishes which always helps bring some clarity to the Lord’s call in their lives. A highlight of the summer will be when all of our seminarians make pilgrimage to Lourdes to volunteer at the Shrine for 10 days. Working directly with and among the sick will provide them a taste of living out a vocation of service to others. May it solidify their discernment of the Lord’s invitation to serve him as a priest!
All of us can be lifted up by the words of our Holy Father: “Today the Lord continues to call others to follow him. We should not wait to be perfect in order to respond with our generous ‘yes,’ nor be fearful of our limitations and sins, but instead open our hearts to the voice of the Lord. To listen to that voice, to discern our personal mission in the Church and the world, and at last to live it in the today that God gives us.”
I conclude with an invitation for you to take part in a unique way of encouraging our young people to listen, discern and live: join us for our seventh annual iRace4Vocations on Sunday, April 22. If you have never participated, it is a wonderful day for the people of our diocese to come together to support and promote religious vocations. The Mass with Bishop Sullivan, the run and walk for vocations and the picnic with so many seminarians, priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful is an outward expression of our Catholic faith. I ask you to join us this year. Find more information about iRace4Vocations on our website www.camdenpriest.org.
Reverend Michael Romano is the Director of Priestly Vocations for the Diocese of Camden.