As you may know, my professional background is in sports media, but you may not know that I love science fiction/fantasy books and movies. These include but are not limited to books and films like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and all the movies in the cash cow that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You may not know the MCU by this acronym, but you surely have seen or at least heard of movies like Ironman, Thor, Avengers, etc., all based on Marvel comic books. The genius of these movies lies in the way they have been rolled out over the years. They are all a part of a larger story arc (or series of arcs) that build on one another. If you watched Avengers: Infinity War, you not only were encouraged to see what happened next in Avengers: Endgame, but you also could get valuable storyline information from less epic films like Ant-Man and the Wasp and other movies set in the same Cinematic Universe. It really is an amazing storytelling vehicle that has raked in billions of dollars for Marvel’s parent company Disney.
Recently the producers of the Marvel movies told the world that “Phase Three” of the MCU was wrapping up, and that “Phase Four” would soon begin. These labels may be of little significance to those outside the fandom of these movies, but they are helpful to those who are diligently following along. The end of “Phase Three” meant that many of the character arcs and major plot lines of the past several films had been resolved, and so “Phase Four” will be trying to keep the larger story going while introducing new characters and plots to the fanbase. And because all of you have so graciously followed along with the story of the Department of Vocations over the past year, may I present to you: Phase Two of my term as Vocation Director in the Diocese of Jackson.
Phase One included me getting my feet on the ground and traveling to different parishes meeting with priests and making plans. I also wanted to lay out my vision of discernment in our diocese: the importance of visiting the seminary, an understanding that discernment most properly happens while someone is in formal priestly or religious formation, etc. I see Phase Two as a bridge between the pandemic and a more normal future where we can gather together in groups once again. The key component of Phase Two will be “Prediscernment Prayer Nights,” which will consist of holy hours for vocations in each deanery during the winter and early spring. I will host these hours of adoration and benediction at two parishes in each deanery. Each parish was chosen to maximize the space available for worship and to minimize travel for those who want to attend. I will be asking pastors and parish leaders in each deanery to personally invite men and women who they believe might be called to priesthood or religious life to attend these events, and I ask that you do the same. This is a way for me to meet more folks interested in discernment at a time when things like retreats and other gatherings simply are not possible. Thus far I have Deanery I and Deanery II dates and times on the calendar. Check out my column in future editions as I schedule more of these events. Please pray for the success of my own “Phase Two!”
Father Nick travels a lot, but he puts his homilies on the internet for those who would like to hear them! Go to www.jacksonpriests.com/podcasts each Sunday evening to listen. You can also find out all you want to know about our Vocation office at www.jacksonpriests.com
Prediscernment Prayer Nights: Deanery I – Feb. 9 at St. Richard Jackson, 6-7 p.m.; Feb. 10 at St. Paul Vicksburg, 6-7 p.m. and Deanery II – Feb. 23 at St. Alphonsus McComb, 6-7 p.m.; Feb. 24 at St. Mary Basilica Natchez, 6-7 p.m. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org