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Discovering God’s will


I suspect that most Catholics at some point in their lives have had a thought cross their minds: ‘what if I’m called to be a priest or a nun’. I’m guessing it’s probably happened during a boring homily alongside the thought, ‘I bet I could do better than this’.

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For some of us, though, this question becomes more than just a curiosity or a comical distraction in church. ‘What if I am being called to be a priest or a nun?’

This thought can bring with it a lot of apprehension and questions. How do I know? How do I find out? Could I have what it takes? What would I tell my family and friends? What do priests and nuns do on weekdays, anyway?

Perhaps now more than ever we are in a time when answering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life will be met by others with misunderstanding and confusion.

Still, one thing is for certain, Jesus is still calling us all to follow him and among some of us there will be a call to serve him in the priesthood or in consecrated, religious life.

So, what’s Jesus thinking? Firstly, believe him when he says: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (Jn 10:10) God’s call isn’t there to make you miserable, or to take away anything of what makes your life truly blessed. For each of us, Jesus’ personal vocation for us is an invitation to come on an adventure and to continue walking with him, because he wants to lead us to true joy and the fullness of life.

Secondly, be brave enough to speak up. You might have done some searching on the internet about priesthood or the religious life, and that’s good, but it’s no substitute for talking to someone. Talk to your parish priest, or that really faithful person at Mass you trust, or talk to the Vocations director (that’s me).

At the end of the day, it’s about discovering God’s will, not about trying to fill up seminaries and convents. Talking to someone about what’s in your heart is a step in trying to hear God’s voice together with someone you trust. For some of us, the answer is going to be: ‘yes, priesthood/religious life’; for many more of us it’s going to be: ‘no, follow along another path.’

But whether it’s a yes or a no, being brave enough to open ourselves to the question will deepen our relationship with Jesus, because he will have brought us to that place where we are striving to hear his voice. And surely that kind of open and generous listening is a good place for every disciple to be in?

Peter Zwaans is Vocations director of the Adelaide Archdiocese and parish priest of Brooklyn Park/Richmond.


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