Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 21, 2005
God calls, who will answer?
Vocation directors give helping hand to those curious about religious life
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
God is still calling young men and women to the priesthood and religious life. But smaller numbers respond because of a society filled with distractions that prevent youth from hearing their call.
Religious communities need to make opportunities to learn about the rewards of serving God more available, says the Edmonton Archdiocese's vocations director.
Father Paul Moret, head of a vocation discernment team that includes Fathers Patrick Baska and Michael Mireau, is about to launch programs designed to inform young people about religious life. He is also looking at ways of fanning the flame once a person has had a religious encounter to later on help him or her discern a particular ministry.
Age 10; Grade 10
"I have heard that the two times to bring youth into vocations is at age 10 and Grade 10," Moret said. "We might not be hitting those ages, but we want to have something for them."
Along with the Alberta Vocation Directors executive and vocation directors from several religious communities in Edmonton, Moret speaks at the annual fall discernment retreat at Camp Oselia at Lake Wabamun.
"Camp Oselia is really the only program we have at the moment," he said.
Moret will soon invite younger children, particularly the Confirmation candidates, to spend a day at St. Joseph Seminary. He sees that happening in a matter of weeks.
He is also preparing a new program slated for early next year for young men to come and spend a weekend at the seminary to catch a glimpse into the life of a priest.
"I always encourage people to try religious life," he said. "It doesn't hurt a person to spend a year at the seminary."
Sister Toyleen Fook has been involved in several information workshops with young adults as a vocation minister with the Sisters of Providence in Edmonton. She organizes days of exploration, reflection and input with women who are looking at religious life.
They share what prayer life and ministry are about and what it is like to live in a community. Fook does the sessions in Calgary as well. She tries to have them during Advent and Lent.
"I try to give them more information so they can discern where they are called," Fook said. "If they want more information on religious life, it is available for them. If they want even more, they can come live with us. We have come-and-see houses. If they are working women and they can take four or five days off, they are welcome to come."
Some women have attended the discernment days and subsequently entered religious orders, said Fook. She encourages women to check several orders because one might better suit an individual.
Life is rich
"If this is what they want, I encourage them to find a spiritual director. I try to guide them. I believe there are women called to religious life in Edmonton and I am trying to help them understand."
Some are indeed hearing their call. Fook says getting more information to them would be a benefit.
"It is worth taking the risk (into religious life) because for me, my life is very rich," she said. "I have grown in so many ways. My relationship with God has given me life."
Margot Bilodeau, vice chancellor of the Edmonton Archdiocese and a member of the Secular Institute of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, helps a person to see the gifts God has given. Working as a spiritual guide, she encourages a person to be patient so that his or her particular gifts come into focus more clearly.
"I offer vocation discernment to anyone who is searching and is open to any vocation where God may be calling them," Bilodeau said. "Whether it is to marriage, the priesthood, religious life or consecrated lay life. Perhaps a person might prefer a simple, single life."
Bilodeau says it is not unusual for a person to alter directions in their quest for a spiritual life once they begin discerning. The key is not to quit and to be adaptive.
"Discerning a vocation is a journey," she said. "It is like a photograph that slowly develops before your eyes. Some discover their area of ministry is different than what they first thought it might be, but they do see that they had the gifts from God all along."
People sit back and wait for clarity, when they should start moving, Moret said. God does not always provide that clarity right away.
"God increases clarity as we go along," he said. "The more we live out our call to basic holiness and a Christian life, the clearer it is for a person who is called. We are trying to help people come to church, to serve and to be generous to others. Within this they will hear the call more clearly."
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.