A priest once told me that Vocation ministry is like watching a tree grow minute by minute; you don’t see immediate results, but that doesn’t mean the growth isn’t happening. That priest was Fr. Mark Shoffner, and he told me that just a couple of weeks ago!
I appreciated that agricultural analogy very much and have been reflecting on it ever since because it mirrors my experience as I look back on the last year of vocation promotion. We just sent out our new poster to parishes and schools in the diocese featuring the faces of our six seminarians, and while there are no new additions this year, there has certainly been growth in our program. I have been so appreciative of the prayers and support of people that I run into across the diocese who know what we are doing and are offering their support in whatever way they can. I look forward to reaching out in new ways in the coming weeks and months to these stakeholders. The awareness of our need for good men from our soil and the excitement that is building among our people is palpable, and I know that growth, though sometimes silent, is occurring.
We also do have our first candidate for women’s religious life from our diocese in quite some time entering formation right now! Ms. Kathleen McMullin has just departed to begin her formation with the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, Illinois. The mission of this order is to “make the merciful love of Christ visible.” They do this through working in healthcare and education across the world. Kathleen continues to be a great light in our diocese even though she is now a few hours away. Bishop Kopacz and I were honored to attend a “going-away” party hosted by some friends of the McMullins in the Jackson area, and it was really inspiring to see how much love and support she has as she witnesses to the call of Christ to religious life.
Please continue to pray for vocations and also encourage people who you believe may have a call. Don’t be afraid to tell them that you see gifts in them that could serve the Church well. You’d be surprised how many young people have never been encouraged to think about priesthood or religious life and therefore have never believed they were capable of it. I also remind you to please come to our 2nd Annual Homegrown Harvest Festival on October 2nd at St. Paul’s in Flowood. This event will bring together vocation supporters from across the diocese for a night of music, food and fun with our seminarians! You can buy your tickets or sponsor the event by going to one.bidpal.net/homegrownharvest2021. I appreciate your consideration as we want to give as many excellent resources as possible to our future priests and religious.