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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Why does a young man consider the priesthood?" (46 Seminarians for a Diocese of only 121,000 Catholics!!!)

From The Catholic Advance - Newspaper of the Diocese of Wichita
By Fr. Michael Simone

He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) There is no doubt that forty-six seminarians are a sign that Catholic life is abundant in the diocese of Wichita. When you know them as well as I, you soon find that our seminarians are full of life, too.

What are these signs of life in the diocese? Where do seminarians come from? Why are our young men considering a call to the priesthood? Wouldn’t I like to know the answer?
All vocations are the result of a call from God. Yet, we must till the soil to allow our young children to hear that call. As the Director of Vocations, I believe forty-six seminarians are a direct result of the vibrant Catholic life in our diocese. There are three areas that should be highlighted to further understand where our seminarians come from.

Family Life

Recently in an airport restaurant a stranger invited me to sit for dinner because she had an empty chair at her table. In the midst of our conversation, this stranger said, “you must come from a really holy family.” To which I responded, “Not really. Our family lives our Catholic faith as if it is just normal.”

It is true. Catholic Faith was an ordinary part of life growing up in the Simone family. Just like brushing my teeth each morning and night, I was taught saying prayers before meals, before bed, and going to Mass regularly were a part of everyday living for everyone. As a young adult, I learned the gift my parents gave to me as I soon discovered that Christian living is not the norm in every family.

One of the surest routes to having vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is through the health of family life. The family is the domestic Church, and it is the most fertile ground for vocations. It is in the family where young men and women not only form their values and beliefs, but where they learn to pray, and where they learn to live their faith. In the home, our youth learn attitudes toward God, the Church, and priests and sisters. Where do seminarians come from? The first answer is God, the second is family life.

Parish Life

How could someone find a vocation separate from their local parish or a faith community? The blessing of having forty-six seminarians from our diocese comes as a direct result of the health of our parishes. Because of the cultivation of a stewardship way of life, especially in our parishes, it has a direct result of cultivating vocations in our diocese.

Faithful stewards enliven our parish communities. By encouraging everyone to participate and to sacrifice for the life of the community, stewardship teaches our youth they are part of a mission greater than themselves. A natural result of this way of living is youth who are disposed to listening to God’s call and responding in service and sacrifice. Where do vocations come from? The third answer is parish life.

Life through Education and Formation

Another source of vocations in our diocese is our vibrant Catholic schools, PSR programs, youth programs, and programs like Totus Tuus. Whenever I speak to someone from another diocese, I always brag – yes – brag, about our Catholic Schools. They are thriving. It is one reason we are a vibrant diocese. Although I am the product of public schools, I know that every dollar we spend on a Catholic education supports families who are passing on Christian values to their children. This investment helps young children to be formed in faith and to find their true vocation.
Many places in our diocese, it is still not possible to educate our children in our Catholic Schools. Our PSR programs, youth programs, and programs like Totus Tuus provide avenues for our children to be formed in their faith.

Raising and educating our children in the faith and imparting them with the saving truths of Jesus each day allows our children to be formed into active stewards who are a strong Christian witness. Where do seminarians come from? The third answer is the abundance of life found in the way we educate and form our children.

Where do they come from? Life!

Where do our seminarians come from? Ultimately they come from God, and from a faithful people who are committed to cultivating a Catholic Culture. Jesus came so that we might have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10).

In our diocese we are thankful that our families, our parishes, and our people are full of life. In the diocese of Wichita, we are blessed by so many things, and I believe this is why God blesses us with these forty-six men.

Hat tip to Fr. Schnippel

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