|Insufficient Bait - part 3|
|Written by Michael Fones|
|Wednesday, 21 November 2007 06:44|
The third and final post on the missing piece in the effort to attract priestly vocations. Part one is here and part two can be found here.
Implications for Priestly Vocations
Why am I so interested in the image of the priest portrayed in vocational materials? I believe that some young men may not consider a vocation to priesthood if a critical aspect of priestly life is not lived fully by most priests and is not "advertised" in vocation promotional materials. That part of priesthood has to do with the royal ministry of Christ; that ministry of forming others, of governing the charisms of the laity and coordinating their use within the parish and in the mission of bringing Christ to the world.
Some young men may well be primarily attracted to the idea of bringing Christ to the faithful through the prayerful celebration of the sacraments. Others may feel called particularly to instruct the faithful through creative and insightful homilies, classes on Scripture, and through the proclamation of the Gospel in the RCIA process, for example. I know priests who would fall into those categories, and they're wonderful ministers. There are priests who spend as much of their time and energy as they can in pastoral counseling to individuals. They enjoy getting to know their parishioners, and there is a wonderful affection and even love shared between these pastors and the people they serve.
But is it not possible that there are men who are gifted by God to help form others – and who feel called to do so? These men could embody that part of fatherhood that calls forth the best from others and empowers them to take their place in the world and in their unique vocation. Many young Catholic men want to make a difference in the world. Some are called to do so directly, through working in the business world, in politics, in the fields of law, medicine, scientific research, agriculture, the arts, and more. But I believe there are also men who want to make a difference by empowering others to make a difference in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. They dream of seeing others realize their potential, and can imagine a multiplying effect as those enthusiastic disciples of Jesus touch the lives of those who have not yet met him and transform the worlds of business, politics, law, medicine, science, the arts – in short, the temporal world. Some of them may rightly discern a call to marriage, in which that empowerment will be directed toward their spouse and children.
But some might be delighted to find that dream fulfilled as a priest – if only they knew the whole story of what it means to be a priest.
While I enjoy teaching and am often awestruck at the opportunity to celebrate the sacraments with God's beloved people, I find my priesthood is not complete unless these help transform people into active disciples of Jesus who long to discern his will for their lives and use their gifts in his mission to the world. When that happens, it's a beautiful experience, and I know my priesthood – and thus my life - is bearing fruit.