By Father Mark Garrett
Special to The Texas Catholic
At the depth of every human heart is a vocational calling. It is the echo of Christ’s voice speaking to His people where we cannot help but listen and follow after Him. Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “In the hidden recesses of the human heart the grace of a vocation takes the form of a dialogue. It is a dialogue between Christ and an individual, in which a personal invitation is given. Christ calls the person by name and says: ‘Come, follow me.’”
National Vocation Awareness Week is our opportunity to add a human face to that calling — that calling which is already present and active in the life of our Church. In every parish across the Diocese of Dallas, there is a someone whose heart is waiting for the invitation they feel internally to take the form of a priest, family member, friend, or fellow parishioner. We must be invitational.
As a young man growing up in the diocese, it was the invitation of many at my home parish that helped maintain my openness to that conversation with God. When I would serve Mass as a young man, people of my parish would come and ask me if I thought about being a priest. These questions might have been taken in jest by a young man who was not thinking beyond that day’s activities, but they stay with you. It is not the first invitation, nor the second, but when many are inviting you to consider a vocation, it is no longer something you can say with honesty you are not considering. We know this to be the case in the way we regularly invite good athletes to consider going professional or great musicians to consider playing publicly so many can enjoy their gift. It is an invitation that opens the heart to receive what by God’s grace is already at work.
It takes the invitation of a community to help foster a vocation. It takes an invitation to open one up to the conversation already taking place within the depths of one’s heart. We all know the young men and women we see serving and participating in our parishes who we think are called to more. Call them to more by inviting them to consider a vocation to priesthood or religious life. However, these cannot be blanket invitations; they must be done with sincerity. This requires that we honestly appreciate and recognize the ministry of a good priest, or religious brother and sister, and likewise recognize signs of such qualities in the young men and women we invite. In this way the invitation is a true spiritual work of mercy. They might just need your invitation to respond with courage to what God is already doing within their life. Be the invitation that brings a priest, nun, sister, or brother into the Church.
Father Mark Garrett is the director of vocations for the Diocese of Dallas.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
The Diocese of Dallas Office of Vocations will hold a St. Andrew’s Dinner at Holy Trinity Seminary at 6 p.m. Nov. 7 for high school men or older who would like to explore more about the priesthood. A Marian Brunch for young women seeking to learn more about religious vocations will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 11 at St. Ann Catholic Church in Coppell. Visit www.dallasvocations.org for more information.