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Catholic Moment: Prayer, the heart of a vocation

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March 31, 2011

By Father Kyle Schnippel

I was raised in a very small town, roughly 1,000 people total, even including the surrounding countryside. To say that everyone knew everyone would be an understatement. Despite the

small size, and the fact that only 50 percent of the town is Catholic (Lutherans and Methodists make up the rest), my home parish has sent five sons to the seminary in the last 20 years. Two of us have been ordained, two were in the seminary and left, one is currently in the college seminary.


This is a remarkable feat that continues to stun me, even seven years after my own ordination. Whenever I mention this fact, people always wonder how this happened.  What’s the secret?


There is no secret but just a vibrant prayer life within the parish, and it is rooted in two areas. First, my hometown has been blessed with excellent priests who each brought his own gift to the parish. I vaguely remember Father Bastian, from whom I received my first holy Communion. Father O’Connor brought about some changes introduced at the Second Vatican Council, taught me how to serve in the fifth grade and was a constant, steady presence in the parish. Father James Trick brought a vitality and joy to the parish, a quick wit and an ability to laugh with the best of them. Father Patrick Sloneker turned the focus of the parish to youth and the energy they bring to the parish. Father Matthew Lee has just recently joined up and has the enthusiasm of the newly ordained.


But this is only part of the success. Even though my home parish is so small, there is a dedicated army of “adorers” who spend at least an hour a week in front of our eucharistic Lord. From the close of the last Mass on Sunday at noon through Friday evening, at least one person is scheduled to spend an hour to watch and pray with our Lord.


In no mere coincidence, this dedication to prayer started roughly as this little vocation wave started to take shape. Because it is such a small community, everyone feels an obligation to keep our Lord company, from the elderly who cover some of the early morning hours while everyone else is home asleep or the midday hours as others work, to students who walk over after school to spend an hour with He who created them. Parents of young families take the late evening shift, after the kids have been tucked safely away.  Others fill in as they are able. From the time this started when I was in high school, I know not to call my mother on Tuesday evenings; she has to keep her hour at church.


As we continue our journey through Lent, we can use the discipline fostered in our prayer life to continue on into the future, instead of sliding back into old habits.  Especially in periods of adoration, we see Christ face to face, and encounter Him at a deeper level. During these times, our hearts are opened to experience the great love of Christ who came that we might have life through Him.


In these moments, the initial stirrings of a vocation are heard, the longing of the heart is kindled, and the soul is strengthened to follow wherever God calls. For this and so much more, whenever someone asks what they can do to support vocations, I urge them first and foremost to prayer before our Lord during adoration. It is a prayer time unlike any other. 


For a listing of times and locations of adoration in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, see the Resources tab at www.cincinnativocations.org.

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