It’s not a phrase I like saying, nor a statement I am good at saying. I am a determined and independent person; normally, I would rather figure things out on my own rather than ask for help from others. However, I know that no matter how hard I work or how many hours I put in, vocation ministry is not going to be fruitful unless I ask for help.
My job title is “vocation ministry coordinator,” and it may seem silly, but I appreciate the intentionality of the title. I am not a director; God is the ultimate vocation director. It is He who calls and continues to invite each of us to our respective vocations. Instead, I am a coordinator of ministry. The word “coordinator” implies there are multiple efforts involved in the ministry of vocations and my job is to organize those efforts. I am not the only one charged with encouraging young women to consider a vocation to religious life; I am just one person of many with this responsibility.
So, who else should be a vocation minister? You! Everyone — regardless of whether you are a lay person, married, single, an older Sister, younger Sister, a former Sister, parent, teacher or anything else — is tasked with inviting young people to discern their vocation! As the coordinator, I am here to help you with this!
So how do you encourage young people to participate in discernment?
1) Remind them that we are all called to holiness! This is our primary vocation! Discerning religious life, marriage, ordained life or single life is finding the way that we can best live out that call to holiness!
2) Invite children, youth and young adults to spend time with a sister, brother or priest. This could mean inviting a parish priest to dinner, or bringing kids to Mass with the Sisters. Many Catholics grow up without ever meeting a sister or having said anything to a priest outside of Mass. And in order for young people to discern religious life, they must know it exists!
3) Affirm the youth and young adults you are around! If you see a young person in church or on retreat, acknowledge their faithfulness and ask if they’ve considered religious life. You don’t have to have a long conversation or even know their name. Simply saying, “You would make a great sister” can be God’s whisper to them. Caution: Don’t go around saying this to everyone! Be authentic; that is, say it only if you mean it!
4) Lastly, pray for all young people. Pray for your children, your nieces, nephews, your students or even those whom you do not know. Pray that they may authentically discern how God is calling them to live a life of holiness. Pray with them if possible, or remind them of your prayers for them!
As the vocation ministry coordinator, I am here to support you. If you would like resources, please let me know. I can provide books, prayers, websites or suggestions on how to have conversations. I welcome the opportunity to talk with you or any young person you know.
We are all called to be vocation ministers and I am very grateful for your help!
– Story by Jenna Legg