Don’t assume. Just ask.
I met Kai Lee I during my final year of seminary studies in New Orleans. One of the priests on faculty, Father Joe Krafft, told me that he had met this man at a parish in the area who was looking for an RCIA program that fit his circumstances. Kai had been married to a Catholic for about 30 years and had raised his son Austin in the faith. He was so active in his parish that most parishioners at Christ the King on the Westbank assumed he was already Catholic, but he hadn’t even been baptized! As Father Krafft listened to Kai’s story and realized he wasn’t baptized, he didn’t assume that Kai had already discerned whether or not to join the church, he asked him!
Kai began to attend RCIA sessions at the seminary with myself and one of the other seminarians. He was an incredible student who left no stone unturned. He ended up reading through the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church (and he poured through much of it while he was taking instruction from us), and I always had to make sure I stayed up on my own studies so I’d be able to help answer the questions he would come up with during the week. Kai remembers how we would often go over our class time by 30 minutes to an hour just talking about the faith. Kai was baptized and received first communion and confirmation in May 2018. It was a joy filled day, and it was a great joy to see Kai, his wife Vicky, and their son Austin earlier this month as they paid a visit to Jackson.
The lesson I learned from Kai is one that I use in vocation ministry today: don’t assume, just ask. You may see a young man who is active in his faith and in the church and assume that he has already been encouraged to think about priesthood, or that he’s already discerned and decided against going to the seminary — but don’t assume, just ask! It is so helpful to all of us when we are encouraged by someone to share our gifts. We need that encouragement as human beings, and so never be shy to ask someone if they have considered priesthood and to tell them that they should.
There is one more step that is important to remember. If you can, make sure you help that person make the next step in their journey. Father Krafft helped Kai get connected to an RCIA program that fit his specific circumstance. You can help a young man that you encourage about the priesthood by putting him in touch with me! Remember that anyone who is interested in priesthood or religious life can call my office to get more information — my direct line here at the office is (601) 969-4020, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t assume, just ask. And then help a young man make the next step in his discernment by encouraging him to talk to me!