Here we are in mid August, and summer is already coming to a close and we are preparing for school to start. After having been in school for 23 years straight (kindergarten through seminary!), it is a great feeling to be able to stay put where I’m at as I watch all the children prepare for the school year and college kids head out of town. I’m happy to stay here at the parish with you all where I belong!
Along with all the students leaving us, we have 3 seminarians to see off. We have had a seminarian living with us at the rectory this summer, Seth Arnold, and he will be going back to Mundelein Seminary for his 2nd year of theology. Our two parish seminarians, Jon Tolberd and Caleb Harris will be leaving us as well. Jon has spent the summer living at Christ the King, but he will move to St. Patrick’s in Kingman for a year of pastoral work in the parish, and Caleb Harris will move in to the St. Joseph House of Formation here in Wichita to begin his seminary studies at Newman. Let us continue to pray for these men as they discern God’s will in their lives. The culture we live in is not conducive to producing priestly vocations, as it grows increasingly secular, and it takes many prayers to get a man through seminary.
As I reflect on these seminarians leaving for the year, and the school kids returning to Magdalen Catholic School, I was considering vocations within the Church and our role as a parish in this. ‘Vocation’ comes from the Latin word vocare, which means “to call.” A vocation is a calling, literally God calling a person forth from their current state, into a new state of life, a more permanent state in life. Many of you that are parishioners here are in families, and have found your vocation in marriage, or possibly in the dedicated single life. Our children have not yet heard where God is calling them as they mature into Catholic adolescents and then adults. God speaks to us in different ways, and one we often forget is through others within the Body of Christ, the People of God. We must pray for young people to strive to find their calling, and not simply continue on to the “next step” in life, without considering how God might be involved within that step. Outside the universal call to holiness, which God calls all of us into, we can be called into four particular types of vocations. I will list them in order as they relate closest to our final destination in heaven, where there is no marriage but only union with God, which some vocations live in a special way here on earth. 1) Consecrated religious life (sister, brother, monk, nun) is a life lived under the evangelical counsels of poverty, celibacy and obedience. “In the consecrated life, Christ’s faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all…” (CCC 916). 2) Priesthood – a life dedicated to ministry of salvation of souls through providing the sacraments. 3) Dedicated Single Life – a life dedicated to a particular ministry within the Church. 4) Marriage “Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh” (CCC 2364).
A great majority will be called to marriage, and we must pray for holy marriages. But many will also be called to lives of virginity in some capacity: “virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven is an unfolding of baptismal grace, a powerful sign of the supremacy of the bond with Christ…” (CCC 1619). Let us pray for our young people, and encourage vocations to consecrated life and priesthood!