Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 21, 2005
A rainbow of vocations
All Catholics called to nurture culture of vocation
By LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WCR News Editor
Mention the word "vocation" in a Catholic setting and people assumed you meant becoming a priest.
But that word vocation is blossoming into a rainbow that encompasses a Christian culture that surrounds you should you choose to be a married person, a nun, a sister, someone living a single life, a priest, a brother.
Sister Marion Garneau explains.
"The North American Congress on Vocations of 2002 presents us with a pastoral plan for creating a culture of vocation (single and married, lay, consecrated, and ordained).
"Creating this culture is 'the privilege and responsibility of all Catholics.' It takes a village to raise a child; it takes a Christian community to create a culture of vocation."
A Sister of Charity of the Immaculate Conception, Garneau remembers, "When I grew up in St. Alphonsus Parish in Edmonton, a vocation culture existed; it was created by my family, school and Church. The different ways of living a Christian life were valued. People were ready to be of assistance to me as I made my life choices."
Young people hunger
Surrounded by a celebrity and crisis-driven media, today's young people hunger for a spiritual structure and foundation on which to base their individual lives.
Edmonton's Archdiocesan Catholic Schools "CORE values encourage students to have the freedom to explore," says guidance counsellor Corinne Whelan, "because it is grounded in honesty, dignity, respect. . . . Christianity is not only talked, but lived."
But the young people want and need more.
"Today's young adults have asked our Church, our Christian communities, to assist in nurturing their personal vocations as baptized Christians, says Garneau. "They asked for positive role models, for objective mentors, for places to grow in faith, in spirituality."
She says the searching youth are saying, "We need a safe place to seek answers and to grow."
The pastoral plan clearly explains how each and every one of us must play a part in creating this culture of vocation. Perhaps two of the strongest tenets of this plan are those of setting an example through our own lives and mentoring to those searching for their Christian path.
"Some creative alternatives are arising, yet a huge need is for all of us as Church to participate to pray, share faith and experience, accompany, invite," says Garneau. "Young adults need to see believers as committed to making a difference in our world."
Ursuline Sister Geraldine Kelly says another key is for those young people to get to know Jesus.
"You have to allow the time to get to know Jesus as your friend, as someone who loves you.
"With that friendship you come to know how Jesus related to people and discover, 'How am I called to be like Jesus?'"
Another hint from the sister.
"Listen within your heart to what is life-giving for you. Pay attention to where we find life, what it is that feeds us, nourishes us, encourages us. Then we can share that with other people.
"It can be marriage, the single life, consecrated single life, priest, brother, sister, nun. Any calling responding to Jesus is responding to your vocation."
Shining like the sun
Garneau's fellow Sister of Charity, Sister Maggie MacLean, points to monk and poet Thomas Merton for encouragement for the searching youth when he said, "How do we tell people they are walking around shining like the sun!
"I long for the young to experience and know that they do indeed shine like the sun, that they are chosen today to be sacred fire. We are here to help them to listen through the chaos, through the noise of our culture to what God wants them to do with their one wild and precious life."
Many of today's young adults choose to share their lives and marry.
"In this vocational culture, when a young man or woman prepare for marriage, they understand their marriage or family is a vocation responding to a call from God," says Father Raymond Lafontaine.
The main author of the pastoral plan and director of pastoral formation at the Grande Seminaire du Montreal, Lafontaine reaches across the ecumenical bridge for his answer to that ultimate gnawing question many young people angst over, "How will I know what my vocation is?"
Frederick Buechner, a Presbyterian minister, replies, "You will find your vocation at the place where your deepest desires meet the deepest hunger of the world."
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