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January 12, 2006 Edition

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Vocations: Take time to listen to God

We know that God continues to call people to vocations in the church. The problem is many people do not take the time to listen to God.

It's especially difficult to listen to anything in the world today. We have so much noise. We've got way too many distractions. For young people it is particularly hard to listen to God. How does God get through ears glued to cell phones, I-Pods, and CD players?

Time for silence. In thinking about this problem, I've come up with a solution. We have to provide our young people with the opportunity to listen to God. This means scheduled time for silent contemplation and prayer.

In our parishes and schools, we could offer time for silent prayer, perhaps in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We could start with short periods of five or 10 minutes. Then we could increase the time as youth become accustomed to it. Women and men in priesthood and consecrated life have told me that time in prayer - especially in Eucharistic Adoration - helped them hear God's call.

Other efforts important. Other efforts to promote vocations are important. We should invite good candidates to consider becoming priests or Sisters. Personal invitation is so vital.

The example of happy priests and religious is also key. Hearing the stories of their vocation call can be an excellent way to draw others to church vocations. The support and prayers of family members, friends, neighbors, and parishioners can also be critical in vocation encouragement and discernment.

Listen and respond. All of these things are necessary to promote church vocations. But as we celebrate National Church Vocation Awareness Week this week, I encourage parents and teachers to help young people find the time and space to listen to God's call. Set aside time for quiet, for prayer, for reflection each day. Then God will have the opportunity to reach young people with his love and his message about their vocational call.

Of course, besides vocations to ordained and consecrated life, we need dedicated lay people in our church. God may be calling us to be mothers, fathers, or single people who serve the church.

Whatever our station in life, we must take time to listen and then respond to God's call. He will do the rest!

Mary C. Uhler

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Madison, WI 53744-4985

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Cathedral presents opportunity

To the editor:

The Gospel of Matthew at 25:31-46 contains the final and perhaps most important teaching of Jesus. In that passage Jesus tells us that the only way to achieve eternal salvation and to avoid eternal damnation is to care for those in need.

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St. Raphael Cathedral

The tragic fire which destroyed St. Raphael Cathedral on March 14, 2005 has presented us as Catholics in the Diocese of Madison with a unique opportunity. As Msgr. Mike Hippee commented at the December 15th meeting of the Presbyteral Council, we should emphasize helping the poor.

We do not have enough priests to serve three parishes within three blocks of the State Capitol. In addition to St. Paul's, one parish located in downtown Madison is sufficient to serve the Catholics living in that area.

The land where St. Raphael Cathedral is located has a long history of providing a presence in downtown Madison for the Catholic Church long predating the erection of our diocese. We should maintain a very visible presence at that location.

Rather than building a new Cathedral at that location, why not use the insurance proceeds and other funds contributed by Catholics throughout the diocese to build a homeless shelter and food pantry? If the beautiful steeple can be salvaged, that could still tower above a chapel included as part of the complex.

One of the other two downtown churches or one of the larger parishes outside the downtown area (which would be more accessible to people and provide more parking) could serve as our new Cathedral.

With the ever-shrinking number of priests available, we do not need another church built. Instead let us follow the teaching of Jesus and use those resources to serve the poor.

Patrick K. McDonald, Janesville

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Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
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