God wants to work on your heart
Prayer, receiving the sacraments frequently, serving others — these are important when discerning a vocation to the priesthood and religious life.
But what is also important is attending a vocation event. Just as college visits can help people know if they want to go to that college, likewise, visiting the seminary, a convent, or attending a vocation event can help people know what God wants for them.
Every year we take young men to the Come and See retreat at St. Joseph Seminary in Louisiana where they get to meet many of our seminarians, see the beautiful campus, and learn what life is like there. Often the men will want an application to the seminary by the end of the retreat. Similarly, when a young woman visits a convent of religious sisters, she may experience a deep peace and can visualize herself being a part of that community. These are ways God can work on the hearts of men and women, to help them to know His will for them.
Moreover, going to vocation events with seminarians, priests, and religious sisters can be most helpful for those discerning their vocation. Hearing what life is like as a priest, a seminarian, or a religious sister; asking questions; meeting others of the same age who are also discerning; praying together — this is what makes vocation events very helpful.
In my own experience, I remember attending the Lenten Holy Hours and dinners at St. Patrick Cathedral, with Father Kyle Walterscheid and other young men. I remember being moved by the beauty of the church, the peacefulness of being before the Blessed Sacrament, and being edified by the discussion on priesthood. Getting to talk with a priest, meeting other young men who were also discerning the priesthood — this was incredibly helpful. God inspired me during these discernment events to be a priest.
God wants to work on the heart of people attending a vocation event, but if they never make a leap of faith to attend one of these events, how will they know what God wants? Sure, Jesus Christ can still appear to the person and audibly speak to them, but Jesus tends to reward faith — not timidity. When the person is willing to take a leap of faith by attending a vocation event, God will bless this action and give the person a better sense of what He wants for them.
So, the Diocese of Fort Worth has various vocation events each year to help with discerning one’s vocation. We have a Quo Vadis retreat for high school boys on August 6 at Montserrat Retreat Center (email [email protected] for more details).
We have monthly St. Andrew Breakfasts on Saturdays at the Cathedral at 8 a.m. (our next meeting is on August 21). We have our Fall Come and See at St. Joseph Seminary on November 5-7. And we are also in contact with various religious orders, such as the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province, to help young women have opportunities to visit a convent and meet religious sisters.
I encourage all of us to continue to pray specifically for more religious vocations in our diocese and to offer our Holy Communions and Rosaries for men and women to consider the call to be a priest, religious sister, or brother. Perhaps we can even have a monthly Holy Hour at all our parishes for religious vocations. Lastly, I encourage us to continue to invite young men and women to these discernment events so that they can see what the seminary or convent is like, to be able to visit with priests, religious sisters, and seminarians, as well as other people of the same age. These vocation events will greatly help them in knowing what God wants for them in their life.