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Hearing God’s Call: Think About It; Pray About It

January 17th, 2013by Fr. Dave Endres

How does someone know they are called to the priesthood or religious life?

It’s a difficult question – rarely is it like a flash of lightning, or a voice, or a vision.  If vocations depended on signs like these, we would have a lot fewer priests and religious.

But one thing is certain: the Lord continues to call and He calls in as many different ways as there are individuals.  He calls each of us by name in a way suited to our individual circumstances for Christ knows us even better than we know ourselves.

I remember a few years before entering the seminary I was asked to serve the wedding Mass of two friends from college who were getting married in Pittsburgh.  They had chosen another friend to serve as well – someone whom I did not know.  Before the Mass began, the priest came up to both of us and asked us what we were planning to do when we finished school.  I said that I was planning to be a college history teacher; the other, I think, said that he was planning to become a dentist. 

The priest – who we had never met before – looked at both of us and said: “Teaching and dentistry are wonderful professions, but the world has many teachers and dentists right now, but it has too few priests.”  “Think about it,” he said.

I did think about what that priest had said and evidently so did the other young man.  We both entered seminary.  I am now a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, teaching at the seminary; he is now a priest for the Diocese of Toledo.

How do we discern a vocation?  Often it comes in the form of an invitation from another– from a priest or a parent or a grandparent. Sometimes others recognize the possibility of a vocation before we even do. When I announced to some college friends that I was entering the seminary, I thought they would be surprised.  Instead they said, “Of course!”; “Go for it!”; and “We knew all along!”

God uses His people, members of His Church, to invite men to consider the priesthood and to strengthen them in their discernment and formation as priests. That priest from Pittsburgh never knew the impact of his suggestion and the simple words – “The world needs priests; think about it.”  Maybe God has chosen you for a special role in his Church.  Pray about it; think about it.  God may be using the people in your life to invite you to be one of His priests.

Fr. Dave Endres

Fr. David J. Endres is assistant professor of church history and historical theology at Mount St. Marys Seminary/Athenaeum of Ohio in Cincinnati.