by Father Scott Wallisch
Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a few days at a conference with other vocation directors from around the United States, Canada, and Australia. It was such a great learning experience.
The first three days were specially designed for new vocation directors like me. We learned about building a culture of vocations, helping men discern God’s call in their life, screening potential candidates for the seminary, working with the seminaries to form seminarians, and living the priesthood more fruitfully in our own lives. There were lots of great ideas, and I tried to soak in as much as I could.
In addition to the talks and sessions, the conference was a great occasion for meeting other priests and staff that work in vocation offices. I was humbled by the dedication of the people I met, and their witness inspired me to want to be a more effective instrument of the Holy Spirit, who is the church’s real vocation director.
As I met my fellow directors, the conversation would inevitably turn to a discussion of numbers. How many Catholics in your diocese? How many priests? How many seminarians? How many new guys this year?
Some directors would respond that they have large numbers of seminarians. Others would acknowledge that vocations were hard to come by in their dioceses. I was proud to share that our archdiocese had a growing number of great men studying in seminary, thanks to the hard work of Archbishop Naumann, Father Mitchel Zimmerman, Msgr. Mike Mullen, my fellow priests, and all those who support vocations in Kansas City.
And as I shared stories and numbers with my brother priests, I was reminded frequently of two things.
First, it is so important for us to think about vocations on a national and global level. There are many areas of our country and world where priests are scarce. This means that many of our fellow Catholics do not have ready access to the sacraments.
This also means that there are numerous priests who are spreading themselves very thin to serve their flocks. I was reminded to increase prayers for vocations in these areas.
Second, it is good for us to recognize how blessed we are here in our archdiocese.
We have so many holy, dedi- cated priests; we have hope, thanks to our 36 seminarians; and we have parishes, schools, camps, and a chancery full of men and women with a heart for finding and supporting vocations. I was reminded to increase prayers of thanksgiving.
There is much work to be done, but there is much for which to be thankful. I invite you to join me in prayer for holy vocations here and around the world.