Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Gentle Reminder

Last Autumn,  we heard the news that one of the priests of the diocese had succumbed to a tumor that had been rapidly growing in his brain for several months.  Aside from the trauma of his death, it created something of a personnel crisis.


I like to believe that my own vocation to the priesthood is the result of the fact that our diocese has been praying for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life for nearly as long as I can remember.  Indeed, over the course of the last ten years or so, the Lord has been generous to our diocese.  Compared to the rest of the nation, we have a very young group priests in Western South Dakota.  We also have a significant group of truly exceptional young men who are currently in the seminary discerning priesthood for our diocese.  In a similar way, several young women have recently left the diocese to discern vocations with various orders of religious women.  God has richly blessed us.

Though these things are true, we must remain ever vigilant in our effort to encourage young men and women to consider religious and priestly vocations.  The recent death of Fr. Brian Fawcett was traumatic for the priests of this diocese in many ways.  Not insignificant to us has been the reminder of exactly how precarious our situation is.  The loss of any one of us places us in a near-crisis situation.  Though we have good, young priests, we are still in need of more.  This is a reality with profound implications for every Catholic in the Diocese of Rapid City.

 Priests and sisters do not magically appear.  They are not produced in gardens and distributed throughout the world.  Instead, they come from real families in real communities.  They rise out of the same circumstances in which all of us find ourselves.  This means that your child could be called to one of these vocations!  There is every likelihood that your son, grandson, or brother is called to the priesthood.  There is every likelihood that your daughter, granddaughter, or sister is called to religious or consecrated life. 
I have the privilege this year of instructing the young men and women who are preparing to receive the sacrament of confirmation.  These forty-two students are comprised of nearly equal numbers of men and women.  It seems likely to me as a result, that two of them are called to the priesthood and two to the religious or consecrated life.  If I were to ask them, however, I suspect that almost none of them have ever even considered either of these vocations as a possibility for themselves.  They are good kids, and most of them are serious about their pursuit of a deeper relationship with Christ.  Why then, has it never occurred to them that they might be called to a vocation other than marriage?  I suspect that largely, none of them has ever been encouraged to think about vocations priesthood or religious life at home.  Parents have a profound impact on the decisions their children make; if vocations are to flourish in our diocese, it will be because generous parents who offer their children to God in this way are also flourishing.

So, perhaps the short way of saying this is that when we pray for vocations each Sunday, we are not praying for someone else’s child.  We are praying for your child.  We are praying that you will have that faith, love, and spirit of sacrifice that encourages you to offer your children to God’s service.  Such generosity will not go unrewarded. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I am afraid it is the little Red Hen all over, all want priests and nuns, but few want their children to be one. Sad.


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