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Let us joyfully tell the story anew! Print
Guest column
Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011 -- 1:00 AM

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 9, 2011 marks the beginning of the National Vocation Awareness Week.

Guest Column

While the Baptism of Christ focuses on the revelation of Christ as the “Beloved Son of God,” it reminds us of our own Baptism.

Baptism marks the beginning of our “vocation”as Christians.

By virtue of our Baptism, we also share in the three-fold mission of Christ to be priest, prophet, and king.

God calls all of us

Vocation from Latin “vocare” means to call. The one who calls us is God, just as Abraham, Samuel, and all the prophets we read about in the Old Testament were all called, each to their respective mission.

We are all called to a vocation in life and need to discern what that vocation is. With the many voices that demand our attention, one may wonder if we pay diligent attention to the call from God.

Many people, especially young people, need to be guided in their discernment of their vocation in life, especially to the priesthood and religious life.

Tell the story anew

This week January 9 to 15, Catholics in the United States celebrate Vocation Awareness Week. This is a good time to tell the story anew. Tell the story anew of how God has continued in every age to bless us with workers for His vineyard, and how we need to continue to say “yes” to Him.

As a diocese, we have every reason to be thankful to God for His favors to us. Slow but steady, our number continues to increase and we are reaping the benefits of God’s unfailing favors to us.

Between July 2010 and May 2011, we would have ordained six men to the priesthood. Two new seminarians, Steve Petrica and Chahm Gahng, were accepted for studies to the priesthood and have started seminary training this January.

More we hope by the grace of God will follow suit by this fall. We continue to get inquiries by interested young men who want to discern the priesthood and also young women who are considering the religious life.

No longer are young men and women shy of expressing their desire to consider the priestly vocation or religious vocation. These are causes to be joyful and thankful to God.

Identify and invite

However, the story needs to be told anew. Many people do not consider priestly or religious vocations because they have never been asked.

In addition to our fervent prayers for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, we need to continue to identify and invite people. “Lend your own voice to Christ.”

Let these young men know that you have seen some good qualities in them that you love in priests and encourage them to think about the priestly life.

There are a lot of these people in our families, in our work places, parish schools and school of faith formation, parish churches, colleges, and in all works of life, all waiting to hear this story anew.

This story is trustworthy and it comes from the Sacred Scriptures: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

In this special edition on vocations, you will read some of the stories of the people we featured who are all now working in the Lord’s vineyard. Their story is a good reminder to us that the Lord never takes away from us anything that is good and noble we have for us to serve him. Somehow, He uses those talents to complement our work as priests and religious.

Words of Pope John Paul II

In closing, I will share with you the exhortation from Pope John Paul the Great from his address for the World Day of prayer for Vocations in 1993. While he was primarily addressing priests, I think that all can benefit from the words of this holy man.

The pope writes: “I turn, finally, to you who are already consecrated to the Lord and, in a special way, to you priests: you have already heard and recognized the call of the Good Shepherd; lend your own voice to him who today still calls many to follow him. Speak to your young people, letting them hear about the beauty of following the Lord, and accompany them along the paths of life, which at times can be full of difficulties. Above all, witness your life to the joy of being in the Lord’s service.”

Thank you to all who continues to pray and support the work of the Office of Vocations. Special thanks to the parishes that have some form of vocation program or group in their parish. Above all, let us joyfully tell the story anew! May Mary the Mother of God and priests intercede for us. Amen.

Fr. Paul Ugo Arinze is director of the Office of Vocations of the Diocese of Madison.