Vocations: How to invite someone to consider priesthood
By Father Brian McMaster
This year the new diocesan seminarian poster is themed "Called by God, Invited by You." The poster features testimonies from our seminarians about how they were invited by someone to consider the priesthood and the effect the invitation had on them. Our seminarians share how they were encouraged by priests, parents, youth ministers, teachers, other seminarians, fellow parishioners and others. The poster reminds us how important and effective a simple invitation can be. To build a "Vocation Culture" in our parishes, schools, youth groups and diocese means each of us take up the role of praying for vocations, actively looking for those we think might have a calling, and verbally inviting them to consider it.
There are some helpful points to remember regarding our role in inviting men to consider priesthood. First, it’s everyone’s responsibility to invite. We all play a role in building up the Body of Christ and the church. It is important for us to encourage men to consider priesthood especially now when the culture at large proposes many different values.
Secondly, it’s as simple as an invitation. We don’t have to convince someone they’re called. Don’t be afraid of the initial "no." It’s even OK to expect it. There are numerous stories in Scripture and in the history of the church in which men and women were called by God to do something extraordinary yet they were initially hesitant or resistant. But the invitation stayed with them like a seed that slowly grew and blossomed into a loving response to God’s will.
Thirdly, it’s also important that we are not too forceful or nagging when we invite someone. We simply need to make the invitation and then humbly trust that God will cultivate the sense of calling in the man.
What does an invitation sound like? All we have to do is tell the man what we see in him. Here are some examples of what to look for and how to say it.
I see in you…
A strong relationship with Jesus Christ. You are committed to prayer and devoted to the Eucharist.
Joy and confidence. You’re a happy and healthy single man with an attractive personality.
A compassion for others and a desire to serve. You have many of the gifts to become a servant leader.
A love of the church. You’re active in the parish and proud to be Catholic.
Virtue and strength of character. You’re striving for holiness. You trust in God’s mercy and use the sacrament of reconciliation.
What’s next? You may want to encourage him to take a pro-active step that will help him respond. Here are some suggestions of how to encourage him to respond.
I hope that you would…
Be open. You might be hesitant at first. So too were many of the great saints and figures from the Bible who were called to an extraordinary life by God. Be not afraid! Trust that God desires your happiness even more than you do. God is never outdone in generosity.
Pray. It’s all about your relationship with God. Discernment happens within a dedicated prayer life. Listen to his voice especially in Mass, during Eucharistic adoration, while reading Scripture, and while praying the rosary.
Talk to someone. Consider talking to someone whose faith you admire. Speak with a priest or a seminarian. Call the diocesan Vocation Director –– he is there to help.
Learn more. Check out www.austinvocations.com for some ways to learn more about priesthood and discernment. Read some good books such as "To Save a Thousand Souls."
Attend a discernment event. Jesus said "Come and see." Go to one of the monthly discernment dinners, attend a discernment retreat, visit a seminary, or attend Project Andrew (in February).
May all of us continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.