It’s up to everyone to encourage vocational call

By Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, Clarion Herald Commentary

This is a time of year that is filled with joy. We have confirmations, graduations, award ceremonies and ordinations to the diaconate and to the priesthood – and the list goes on. All these celebrations give us the opportunity to lift people up and thank God for their dedication to living their faith.

On Saturday, May 18, at St. Louis Cathedral, we will have the awesome privilege to ordain five men from the Archdiocese of New Orleans as transitional deacons. That is the final step before ordination to the priesthood next year. Then, on June 1, we will ordain eight men to the priesthood for the archdiocese. I ask all members of the archdiocese to thank God for their lives, their faith and, in a particular way, for their “yes” to serve his church, the people of God.

I’m so grateful to the families, friends and coworkers of these ordinands – all those who in any way encouraged them in their religious vocation or who have been a part of their formation. Needless to say, I’m grateful to our two seminaries – Notre Dame Seminary and St. Joseph Seminary College – and all those who have encouraged their formation by helping them discern God’s call.

As I have journeyed with these men in their discernment, I thank God for them and believe that they are truly sincere in offering the rest of their lives to the priesthood of Jesus Christ and to the church. They are men who seek holiness and who desire to pour out their hearts in leadership and service to God’s people. These men have carefully discerned celibate chastity and have made a promise of obedience to the needs of the church.

We often hear people say they are not sure what they want to do with their lives. Perhaps the right question to ask is this: What is God calling me to do with my life? I always try to put this into perspective for those who are thinking about their future. God has given each of us many gifts.

As young people identify those gifts, I would urge them to ask these questions: God, how can I be a good steward of these gifts? What is my vocation? To what are you calling me, Lord?

Many people are being called to marriage and family life. Some are being called to the single way of life. And, no doubt, there are some who are being called to the priesthood and to consecrated life as a sister or brother. We pray that those whom God is calling will hear the call and respond with openness of heart. I also pray for parents and the friends of our young people – that they will be voices of encouragement and never an obstacle to a person responding to the call. I know of some considering leadership in the church who have been discouraged by family and friends.

Recently, we used this theme for our “Calling All 5th Graders” program that hopes to plant the seed of a religious vocation in children’s hearts in order to help them identify their gifts and encourage them to ask God to what vocation they are being called.

We are blessed in our archdiocese to have more than 30 men from the Archdiocese of New Orleans discerning the priesthood. They are men who take very seriously the possibility of a call to leadership in the church. I have also spoken with some who are discerning a call to consecrated life as a sister or brother or to consecrated virginity.

Please join me in thanking God for those he is calling to leadership. The Lord Jesus never leaves the flock untended.

Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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