Most vocations directors are accustomed to answering many questions about religious life and the path to getting there. It’s certainly normal for us then to respond to questions regarding our Come and See vocations events. Here are a few things one should know before attending a Come and See. I think they are fairly universal, but other orders and congregations might have one or two to add to the list. In any case, here we go:
- This is not a retreat. Let me repeat: this is NOT a retreat. A retreat is a whole other thing and is meant as a time set aside for spiritual growth. You may grow spiritually after having attended a Come and See, but that is not the focus of the event.
- Don’t worry about the basic necessities of life. You will be properly fed and housed during the weekend. Most religious groups are experts at hospitality; you need not fret about these things.
- What you see is what you get. When you attend a Come and See you should be prepared to see men and women who have given their lives to God in their natural state. They are not putting on a show for you. This is the way they live and they are letting you see them for a short period of time for your education and discernment.
- You are not signing your life away by attending a Come and See! You are simply looking at this particular way of consecrated life to see if it fits for you and if you find it worth pursuing.
- Come with an open mind and an open heart. Your ideas of Church and religious life may be challenged by they way this group prays, lives and ministers in the world. Chances are they have been doing it for a very long time. Give them the opportunity to tell their stories and be ready to hear inspiring and amazing things that this group has done to further the Kingdom of God.
- Be prepared to be surprised. Most people have solid ideas and have a vast experience of Church, but when you encounter men and women who have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ and His mission, chances are something you experience at a Come and See will either surprise you or cause you to make a decision that will rock your world…just try to be ready!
- You are attending a Come and See for a reason. The fact that you are attending a Come and See experience is proof that the Holy Spirit is active in your life. While you may not enter this particular order/diocese/convent/congregation, you should know that God is not jerking you around in inspiring you to take a look at religious life and the priesthood. Go into the event with a light heart, but be serious about listening to the whisper of God while you are there.