The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare—to call. It is no secret that every baptized person is called by God to respond to this call that started with baptism. But how? Where? When? For what purpose? These are the questions of a lifetime. They are among the most important questions Christians discern, pray about, and think about over the course of a lifetime.
Promoting a “culture of vocations” means creating an environment that encourages all people: young, grown and single, married, and already committed to religious life as a sister, brother, priest, consecrated lay person or member of a lay institute—to discern—to listen—to how God is calling them forward in their response to this call.
Here are five ways you can promote a culture that encourages this life-generating response to God’s call in your family and circle of friends.
Celebrate your baptismal day.
Who wouldn’t like another reason to celebrate? If you are unsure of the dates, call the church where the baptism took place and ask them to look it up for you. If it was a Catholic baptism and the church is now closed, the diocesan office can help you. Older children might enjoy making the phone call themselves, with your assistance.
Talk with the children in your life about your own vocation discernment.
In age-appropriate ways, share with the children about how you knew you wanted to marry their father or mother. What role did your relationship with God play in helping you make that decision? Religious women and men can share the story of their vocational choice with their nieces, nephews and other young people.
Keep your eyes open when watching television and videos with young people.
When you see positive role-modeling in the characters, point it out by saying something like: “Wow! Did you notice what just happened? That character made a selfless decision just now. That shows personal growth and responsibility, which is what God wants for all of us.”
Invite to your dinner table (or online gathering) people who have made faith-based career choices.
Think beyond the obvious choices of sisters, brothers, priests, and lay ministers. Nothing wrong with those, but there are many people who are quietly fulfilling a religious call in what might seem at first like a non-religious career: you might know a teacher or school counselor, a coach or senior outreach coordinator, a social justice advocate, or the manager of the homeless shelter or soup kitchen, who chose to do what they do because they feel called by God. These are great role models for young people, who can only benefit from exposure to these altruistic, faith-filled adults.
Send a letter or a card to a young person you want to encourage.
Point out their gifts and encourage them to use those gifts for the life of the world. Help them to know what that means. “I’ve seen how patient you are when you need to explain something to your little brother. That’s a valuable skill for teachers. Do you think you might want to be a teacher some day?”
However you choose to talk with children and young people in your lives, be sure you are encouraging and positive. Talk with them frequently, in small bite-sized moments, and keep them in your personal prayer over time.
If you know a young woman you think might have gifts for life as a Dominican Sister, but need some advice on where to start, reach out to Sister Denise Glazik, OP, our vocation director, for a conversation. You can reach her HERE on our website or by calling 217-787-0481.