This week, the Catholic Church in the United States spends time promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Every person has a vocation; a calling in life to be the person God has intended you to be. Our callings are as unique as our fingerprints. And discovering your vocation, a process called discernment, takes careful consideration, quiet contemplation, prayer and dedication. It also takes courage to say “yes” to God’s call.
Father Casey Cole, OFM, has become something of a YouTube sensation. His “Breaking the Habit” YouTube Channel has over 149,000 subscribers. Each year, during Vocations Awareness Week, Father Casey produces a video about pursuing your vocation. In the past, he’s encouraged parents, family and friends to support men and women with a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. He’s responded to common excuses as to why people “say no” to God’s call. Father Casey has dispelled myths about religious life and the vocation to the priesthood.
This year, Father Casey’s video is a stark departure. He addresses Vocations Directors with some challenging realities. The tone of his video is compassionate and understanding. Yet it is also pointed.
Father Casey makes it clear that, despite popular misconceptions, Catholic vocations to the priesthood and religious life are growing. “The vocations are out there,” he states.
Father Casey’s unambiguous statement is backed up by the fact that more men are entering the seminary than 10 years ago and that religious communities are growing. The communities that are growing offer a distinctly different life from that of a married couple or a single person. Religious orders attracting vocations offer a challenging and extraordinary experience, centered on a rich and committed prayer life, community and a clear witness to a radical departure from a “regular” life.
The Catholic priesthood and religious life is different. It is a unique call. But many religious communities attempt to attract men and women by minimizing the differences between lay life and the ordained priesthood or the life of a consecrated religion. The priesthood and religious life is so much more than an experience “pretty much” like lay life.
Religious life and the priesthood are about having a clear sense of mission and identity, distinct and different other vocations. Why else bother? Father notes that religious communities that are growing have many things in common including a commitment to wearing religious habits, which is a sign of evangelization that is more needed than ever in an increasingly vain and superficial culture.