What is a vocation?
A vocation is a call from God to do something specifically for God and for His kingdom. The primary vocation of every person is to be holy! It is the divine calling to love and serve God, to obey his commandments, and to cooperate with Christ in the work of redemption by loving and serving others. Everyone is called to live the vocation of holiness, but everyone lives it in a special and unique way according to the plan of God.
“Vocation is born form the meeting of two freedoms: the divine and the human: every vocation is a personal and unique event, but also a community and ecclesial event. No one is called to walk alone.”
Pope John Paul II, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, 1997.
Many people are called to the vocation of marriage, while others may be called to the vocation of priesthood, to the religious life as a sister or brother, or to the diaconate. Equally Christ calls some to the commitment of single life. Remember: It is normal to desire marriage and family. Just because you have this desire does not exclude the possibility that you have a vocation to the priesthood or religious service.
The Salesian vocation is a gift of God rooted in baptism. It is a call to become, like Don Bosco, disciples of Christ and to form communities bearing witness to the God Shepherd’s love for the young.
Salesians respond to this call by committing themselves to adequate ongoing formation, for which the Lord bestows in them daily by his grace. By responding faithfully to his vocation each Salesian finds his path to complete fulfilment in Christ and his way to holiness.
Formation is the joyful acceptance of the gift of one’s vocation and it’s actualisation at every moment of one’s life and in every situation. Formation is a grace of the spirit, a personal attitude, an education for life.
Discernment: Responding To God's Call
Are you thinking about your future? Where are you going? What are you doing with your life? Have you ever wondered: “Should I be doing something else with my life?” “How can I better serve God and the Church in this world?” “Could God be calling me to be a priest?” “Can I meet the challenges of a priestly life?
If any or several of these questions are on your mind, you are not alone! Many men are seeking answers to questions like these. Such seeking is what makes discernment an exciting and challenging part of one’s life. When done with selfless motivation and a desire to know God’s will, it is a time of profound grace.
God has a personal plan for you. That plan began at Baptism and continues to unfold throughout your life. His plan for you includes your personal vocation to live and love in His Name.
Each person’s call is uniquely individual and personal, tailored to character, abilities, gifts, and desire. However, there are common elements that clue you into the need for beginning a discernment process.
Test to Help with Discernment
How do you know if you are being called to serve God as a priest or religious? Take this “vocations anonymous test” to find out! Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions:
- Does the idea of becoming a priest or religious keep coming back time and time again even though you thought you had moved on in your life and forgotten about it?
- Do you feel called to give more, to be more?
- Does your relationship with God sustain you, enliven you, invigorate you in such a way that you want to share the Good News with others?
- Do you long for “MORE?”
- Do you have a sneaking suspicion that you are on the brink of a major life decision?
- Are you afraid to tell friends and family that you are thinking about a Church vocation?
- Does the idea of becoming a priest or religious excite you and at the same time frighten you because you feel “unworthy?”
If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions, contact the Vocations Director or Youth Coordinator.
How do I Know Where God is Calling Me?
Discovering one’s vocation is an active process. This means that the discerner needs to engage the process by doing all or some of the following things:
- Prayer-spending time with God, speaking and listening.
- Spiritual direction- regularly and honestly talking over your spiritual life with a priest will enable you to understand where God is leading you.
- Inquire- seek out happy, satisfied, fulfilled priests and seminarians to find out why they are happy. Ask them their stories and their discernment of God’s call.
- Check it Out- look into seminary life. Visit a Seminary or a Religious Community. Meet the candidates who, themselves, are discerning a priestly vocation. Come for Mass and a meal. As Jesus invited, “Come and See.”
- Discernment Opportunities- contact the vocation office for the many events offered.
Parents play a vital role in their child's discernment. Vocations are nurtured in the home with parents establishing an environment conducive to hearing God's call. This means that parents are chiefly responsible for aiding their children in discovering where God is calling them. Encouragement and prayer are two things parents can do to foster a culture of vocations in the home. Here are a few other suggestions for parents:
- Teach your children to listen to God. Practice listening as an individual and as a family
- Pray as a family, basic Catholic prayers. Have children memorize special Scripture Quotations.
- Pray with and for members of the family, parish and neighborhood.
- Take part in parish activities as a family.
- Let your children experience volunteering their time, energy and gifts.
- Speak of your marriage as a vocation.
- Openly talk about people and events that model commitment and service.
- Plan an evening with 4-5 couples and a priest, brother, sister to have your questions answered.
Provide your children with information and opportunities to know more about the priesthood and religious life.