January 23, 2012
By Father Kyle Schnippel
One of the key moments in my own vocation was several years before I even thought about the possibility that I might even be called to the priesthood. Looking back now, without this event, I would have never even considered the possibility. At the time, however, it was just another event that I was honored to be a part of.
During my junior year in high school, a son of my hometown was ordained to the priesthood for the Congregation of the Holy Cross. As he was my oldest sister’s brother-in-law and needed extra servers for his Mass of Thanksgiving, my twin brother and I were volunteered to assist, which we gladly did. I can still see the joy on the face of a newly ordained priest; years of study, prayer and hard work had culminated in this event, and even though I would not have been able to articulate it at the time, this became a key moment for me in looking towards the priesthood.
A year later, as my class was graduating and heading off to college, I learned that someone I knew from the neighboring town was entering seminary. Hmmm…. Men really do still do this. As I made my way through my own first year of college life, I recognized my own priestly calling through the ongoing example of the priests at the campus ministry and entered the seminary for my second year of college. I have never really looked back.
These recollections are not merely to fill space, but serve to highlight a very simple, yet vitally important point in the cultivation of a spirit of vocations within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. With both Archbishop Schnurr and Archbishop Pilarczyk (and now including Bishop Binzer in the discussion), we are convinced that there are vocations to the priesthood in our midst, sitting near you every Sunday at Mass, passing you on the street corner, riding the bus home from school. We just need to find them, encourage them, help them to discover this pearl of great price to which they have been called.
With this recognition, throughout the month of January as we went from National Vocation Awareness Week to the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, the Vocation Office has been recognizing the stories of local men and women who have answered the call and are now serving as religious, priests or still in training to be so. I invite you to visit www.cincinnativocations.org to peruse these stories.
In reading through them, I am struck that there is no common theme besides faithfulness. There is no “magic pill,” as it were, for families to do to inspire a vocation. There is no simple recipe that will automatically bring your son to be a priest. In these vocation stories, the life-long cradle Catholic is positioned side by side with converts from atheism. Families who were wonderfully supportive are contrasted with a few who nearly disowned their daughter or son for entering the convent or seminary.
Yet, even with the disparate versions of these stories, three common themes present themselves: faithfulness, prayer and trust. As we move deeper into Ordinary Time and once again enter into the great season of Lent, perhaps these three dimensions are being called to the forefront in your family as God continues to form us all to be more like His Son. And, if God calls one of your sons or daughters to the priesthood or religious life, trust that He truly does know what is best.
Father Schnippel is the vocation director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.