|Father Isaac Orozco|
For some years now the Diocese of Fort Worth has been undergoing transformation, reorganization, and renewal. We have experienced dramatic growth, our catechetical office has adjusted for a new evangelization, and vocations to the priesthood have trended younger. There are exceptions to each of these statements, but the pattern emerging reveals a wider participation of the people of God in a diocese that has come of age. With this transformation, reorganization, and renewal come growing pains, but above emerge hints of God’s personal plan of salvation for us. For those who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear, God has smiled on his people and encourages us even as we pass through a range of assaults on our Catholic identity.
With every stage of development both in an individual and an organization come times for decisions. What has served one well in the past may not serve one well in the future and so with growth we can find new situations that beg attention, evaluation, and involvement. Our Diocesan seminarians no longer number between 12 and 16 as it was when I entered in 1998.
To my surprise I encounter more often than not a healthy, vibrant, generous, talented, and humble young man inquiring about a possible vocation to the priesthood, whether it be for a religious institute or the Diocese of Fort Worth. Little by little names and individuals trickle toward the Vocations Office to inquire about how to deal with a deep desire to know Christ and serve his Church with magnanimity. Who wouldn’t be impressed?
At the present moment I am pondering how best to preserve and nurture those inquiries in a way that respects God’s plan. Curiously, it seems that God’s plans mean that I have to brush up on my parenting skills. Just the other day a 15-year-old stopped me in the sacristy to tell me that he might have a vocation. The fact of the matter is that he is one among many and I am at a slight loss to respond, since the Vocations Office currently deals with young men who are 18 years and older. So what does this mean? It means that if I want to do God’s will, then I must collaborate with parents, parishes, and pastors to appropriately respond to the situation on the ground. This requires that I more fully develop my identity as a young father and be present to those young men who are discovering what it means to be a man, a Catholic, and a citizen.
Insofar as I serve the bishop to represent him in the area of vocations and to supervise those already formally discerning, I must also enlist the cooperation of the whole people of God. The privilege of this ministry is at the center of God’s plan for a number of reasons and especially for its suitability to promote the vocation of women in the Church. Wherever we find Christ, we don’t just find an all male priesthood, but we also find so intricately configured, the presence of holy women whose wisdom, talents, dreams, determination, and intuition complement and perfect in men what it means to be a man.
The beauty of this particular moment in history is that we have traveled far enough to know that a dynamic combination of men and women can only help to strengthen a Catholic identity as we transform ourselves, respond to the contemporary world, and renew our commitment to Jesus Christ.