It’s doubtful that, when Jesus left home for his encounter with the Baptist at the Jordan River, his mother stood in the doorway reminding him he had a perfectly good job as a carpenter in Nazareth.
Although Scripture is silent on exactly how Mary and Joseph nurtured their son’s vocation, it’s likely they encouraged him, as our cover story suggests, to seek God’s will.
An exploration of vocation discernment is a timely reminder of our need for vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life and marriage. In his announcement of a pastoral planning process, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said we need to bring the people of God in Western Washington together “to create a spiritual culture where vocations are naturally and enthusiastically prayed for and encouraged — especially vocations to the priesthood and religious life.”
Creating that culture is critically important. The number of parishes is growing while the number of priests is declining.
In 1980 there were 130 parishes in Western Washington and 130 pastors. One pastor, one parish. By 2015 there were 146 parishes and 111 pastors. The one-parish-one-pastor model is not a viable option in the immediate future.
So what should we do? Our cover story makes it pretty clear that we need to nurture faith at home, but how?
Discerning a vocation is about discovering God’s will and purpose for your life. That takes prayer, patience and commitment. Each of us can begin promoting vocations by asking God, “What is your will for my life?” and encouraging our children and grandchildren to do the same.
Praying to Mary, who was perhaps the first vocations director, is another good step toward creating “a spiritual culture where vocations are naturally and enthusiastically prayed for and encouraged.”
Mary will lead us in our discernment. She’s a reliable guide pointing to her son’s will for our lives, and her gentle voice always speaks to us as she did to the servers at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you.”
Greg Magnoni was the founding editor and associate publisher of Northwest Catholic until 2018.