As the Vocation Director, my particular focus is men discerning whether or not priesthood is the vocation where God is calling them to exercise their fatherhood. Discernment means prayerfully seeking the path that best fulfills God’s will, be that priesthood, diaconate, religious life or the sacrament of holy matrimony. Discernment of the priesthood is especially difficult for young men today because their lives are so filled with busyness and noisiness. This, and growing up in a culture so tainted with vice, makes it difficult to hear God’s voice calling them and to give their lives to Jesus Christ as a priest.
While the men considering the priesthood are discerning, I am discerning with them. The Gift of Knowledge in particular helps me, as the vocation director, to lead men to places where they are able to encounter God and listen with a willing and open heart. Gaining knowledge means being open to receiving the gift, and while listening is difficult, so is offering oneself willingly and openly. The giving of self requires vulnerability before the Lord and before the Church, knowing that something greater results in this giving of self; the “something greater” is holiness.
We recently established a discernment year before a man is considered for the seminary. We call this time of preparation Journey. The Journey program is designed to give a man time to recalibrate his lifestyle, increase his personal holiness and realize some of the expectations the priestly life will entail.
“The giving of self requires vulnerability before the Lord and before the Church, knowing that something greater results in this giving of self; the ‘something greater’ is holiness.”
With the seminary formation program, we strive to help the men to pray deeper, to know God in a fuller sense and to be holier through the knowledge they gain. The more the men give of themselves to the formation, the deeper they grow in the likeness and knowledge of Jesus Christ. The Church has always sought for truth and knowledge because Jesus, is the Truth, so the more we know Jesus, the closer we are to our salvation. The Holy Spirit’s Gift of Knowledge helps us to know what is important for our salvation.
The men in seminary focus on the intellectual side of priestly life, but gaining knowledge is about more than mere academic learning. Through the Gift of Knowledge, the seminarians draw upon the knowledge that the saints gained through their personal prayer and experiences. Holiness is having knowledge of God’s love for us and putting God’s love into practice through our love of neighbor. The saints put into practice the knowledge they learned about God through their loving actions, and the seminarians are being formed into that pattern.
The seminarians are in formation in order to help others discern and know that God is with them. The priesthood, when lived healthily, balanced and with holiness, will lead us all to know Jesus Christ intimately, just as our God knows each of us. When we finally are with our Lord in heaven and experiencing the beatific vision, we will gain perfect knowledge, and The Gift of Knowledge will be perfected in us.
Father Alan Wierzba
Director of the Office for Vocations
Published September/October 2019 Issue