Written by Michael Fones
Thursday, 04 March 2010 09:41
Hello from the Phoenix International Airport. I'm on my way to Oakland for a meeting of our Provincial Council. The parish mission Sherry and I gave in Rancho Palos Verdes at St. John Fisher Catholic Church went very well. Its focus was on the reality that every baptized Christian personally participates in the mission of Christ and His Church through the unique work of love that they are invited to participate in by Jesus. That work is a personal vocation that can be discerned. It's also the shortest route to happiness, satisfaction and meaning in this life, as well as a profound way in which we grow in intimacy with Jesus.
What was interesting about this mission is that we incorporated some brief "testimonies" from lay Catholics who are consciously discerning and living their call. One was a former attorney become teacher and writer, another was an engineer with his own multi-million dollar/year company, a third is a physical therapist with several different companies who wants to change the way health care is approached in this country, and the final example was our own Called & Gifted teacher, Barbara Elliott. We used excerpts from a PBS broadcast that looked at her life, her own spiritual awakening, and the vocation she's pursuing now as the founder and director of a non-profit that helps people transition from jail to jobs.
What was incredible as I listened to these interviews were patterns that I heard. These were
1) that the call was linked to a growing relationship with God
2) that as they looked back over their lives, they see that God has "written straight with crooked lines." That is, their previous experiences helped prepare them for what they're doing now
3) they are currently consciously asking God for guidance and are willing to follow it
4) they are pretty peaceful about the future, even though they are not at all sure where God will take them
5) their vocations are BIG! Much bigger than they are. They speak of helping disseminate God's "inventions" in the world, or changing the world through educated, literate young people, changing health care, giving people a second chance. (Two stories we weren't able to use because of time or poor technology had to do with changing the legal profession and addressing the problem of hunger!)
6) all of the vocations focus on changing lives for the better
7) all of the people I spoke to really enjoy themselves when they are doing what they know they were created to do!
I would love to produce a small library on our website of interviews like this of people who have discovered and are living their call. I found them very inspiring - and as a priest, I recognize that such stories, and the changed lives behind them, are meant to be indications that my vocation is bearing fruit (insofar as my ministry intersects their lives). Not that I'm responsible for their fruitfulness (far from it, except as a secondary cause!). Rather, I see the beauty of the connectedness between the sacraments, preaching and teaching, and pastoral governance (the calling forth, discernment and encouragement of charisms) that are part of my life as a priest, and the lives of these individuals whom I am privileged to know and, I must admit, love.