It is intimidating to promote vocations. It is difficult to encourage groups of young men and women to think about something that perhaps they’ve never thought about before, or even considered. It is easy to get discouraged and become timid. In prayer the other day I was reassured that even the saints had their doubts. As the Lord is asking Moses to go back to Egypt and free the Israelites from bondage, Moses exclaims “O my Lord, please send someone else!” (Ex. 4:13b) This feeling of fear must be acknowledged and then fought. It is based on a false notion of what we are on this earth to do.
We are not called to be comfortable all the time or to never put ourselves out there in vulnerability. By our baptism and confirmation, we are called to “go, make disciples.” (Mt. 28:19) Calling forth young men and women and encouraging them to consider religious life is a vital part of that mandate and it is one that will bear fruit if we are stubbornly, doggedly and courageously persistent.
The first week in November was Vocation Awareness Week. I had a wonderful time with our Springfield Dominicans who hosted a social for vocations at their house at St. Dominic. I played dodgeball with sixth graders at St. Richard School. I spoke to the youth group at St. Jude Pearl. I attended and assisted at a “Come and See” retreat at St. Joseph Seminary College. I don’t know which of those young people that I interacted with has a call within his or her heart to dedicate themselves to the Lord in Holy Orders or consecrated life, but all I have to know is that my call is to ask and encourage and accompany. I ask for your prayers in this effort. I ask you to encourage young men and women in your parishes and schools and tell them to contact me if they have any questions or just want to talk about vocations. Again, we have a brand new website www.jacksonpriests.com with tons of information and opportunities for discernment. For me, it is not Vocations Awareness Week, it is Vocations Awareness Life! May it be the same for all priests and religious in our diocese, that we fearlessly promote a life that reminds the world that God is real and that literally brings His grace into the world.
Friday, Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2020 – Annual Notre Dame Pre-Discernment trip. Open to men of any age who are open to a call to priesthood, we will spend three days on the campus of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.
Friday, Feb. 7-9, 2020 – Nashville Dominicans’ Jesu Caritas Retreat. Retreat is open to single, Catholic women, ages 17-30. These weekend retreats explore different topics, offering spiritual insight for those who love the Church. There are opportunities to speak with the sisters and to meet others who have an earnest desire for God.
Contact the Office of Vocations if interested in attending any of these events.