The visit of Pope Francis to the United States recently has had me on the edge of my seat waiting for the phone calls and emails to pour in from men ready to join us and give their lives to the preaching of the Gospel and the salvation of souls. Well, not really, but we will see. I remain hopeful, but realistic. The truth is, we may not see an uptick in vocations due to the excitement around the current pope. It doesn’t matter much, since we continue to receive men into the Order every year. This is a good ministry to be in these days, but occasionally I will hear comments about the ministry of vocations that fail to grasp the reality of the life of a promoter of vocations.
Recently a former member of the Province almost gasped in horror when I told him I was the Promoter of Vocations. I do not recall his exact words, but they were along the line of, “You poor thing,” and “I pity you.” In response, I was able to tell him about all the men I am working with and the number of men we have in studies in St. Louis and the good-sized classes we continue to get every year heading to Denver for the novitiate. His silence and obvious shock told me that, due to his age and exposure to current trends in the life of the Church, he was out of touch with today’s young Catholics.
This brings me to my point: The ministry of vocations promotion is much easier than most people would believe. There are several reasons for this, but one especially is worth mentioning: It is simply due to the fact that the men of our province are living faithful and joyful lives as Dominican Friars. This faith and joy produces interest in Dominican life, and leads to men being inspired and asking to join us.
The other easy part of this ministry is the time I spend with a candidate on the phone or in person. I am blessed to be able to share my faith journey with them and to engage in the preaching ministry of the Order on a level that is exhilarating and life giving. There is nothing boring or redundant about sharing one’s life as a preacher time after time with young men who are deeply interested in this life. In fact, most of the friars of our province reading this will know what I am saying because they do it all the time in their ministries; very often, with young men asking about our way of life and why we are so joyful and committed.
And so, the truth is this: every member of our province is a vocations promoter! At this time in my life, I am the closer—the one who seals the deal. I will, therefore, always be a promoter of vocations and will continue this work into the next ministry I will be assigned to, and the ones after that, right up until I am called from this wonderful life.