Lend your voice to Christ

| Fr. Troy Przybilla | July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Christian nuns walking down the streetI have been the vocations director for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for three and a half years. In my first year, I thought that promoting vocations involved creative and flashy advertising along with various programs to help discerners. While we have a certain degree of that in our archdiocese, Jesus soon helped me realize that he is the vocation director and that I just need to follow him. This realization was a blow to my pride, but it was exactly what I needed.

The truth is that Jesus still calls, and people still hear. I am amazed every time a young man contacts me about joining the seminary. I’m amazed because it means that God’s voice has reached him. Our world is so full of noise, distractions, negativity, apathy, etc., that God’s voice rarely reaches people.

This is especially true in the current struggles of our archdiocese. When [news reports of the archdiocese’s purported mishandling of child sexual abuse allegations] broke last October, I was scheduled to go on retreat. This providential gift from God helped me to process the emotional and spiritual weight I was carrying. On this retreat, God reminded me that we are in the “springtime of the Church” as Pope St. John Paul II prophetically stated. Our Lord added that just as there are clouds and rain in the spring, I should expect them in the springtime of the Church. But we know that as rain purifies, it also brings new life.

Most of the men who I talk to are not discouraged by the negative news. They hear God calling them and so they want to respond. I spoke to around 50 men this past year who thought they were being called and responded by calling me. For various reasons, many of them will not be in the seminary. But nonetheless, I’m inspired by their openness to God’s call.

God’s “call” is mysterious. It is experienced uniquely for each person, but there are similarities. One common experience is that the call came through someone else. A priest, a religious, a family member or someone they never met told them they would make a good priest and encouraged them to pray about it.

Jesus invites men and women in the silence of their hearts, but he also uses you and me to call and invite. Considering this, the best thing that we can do is lend our voice to Christ. I do not believe that more programs are needed to promote vocations. Rather, I believe that more people are needed to promote vocations.

I recommend a very simple model to do this:

  1. Recognize men and women from your parish and from your family who you think would make a good priest or religious.
  2. Pull them aside or write them a note telling them, in a serious (non-joking) manner, that you see in them qualities that would make a good priest or religious.
  3. Encourage them to pray about their vocation.
  4. Pray for them.

I truly believe that if more people would follow these simple steps, we would have many more religious vocations.

Father Przybilla is director of vocations for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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Category: Vocations