Some are called to be married, some to be religious brothers or sisters, some to be priests, and some to remain single. Here we will explore the process of a man discerning God’s call to the priesthood and being formed in it.
In response to the growing number of Catholics on Long Island, Pope Pius XII established the Diocese of Rockville Centre in April of 1957. The diocese covers 1,198-square-miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.5 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.4 million). There are 133 parishes in 115 towns.
In 2008, more than 17,000 baptisms, 19,000 confirmations, 17,000 first communions and 3,000 marriages took place in the diocese. There are approximately 20,000 students in Catholic elementary schools; 13,000 in secondary schools and 3,500 in higher institutions.
There are 69 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, and a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice.
In 2008, Catholic Charities assisted more than 55,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island.
Father Lachlan Cameron was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He attended Chaminade High School in Mineola and St. John’s University, Queens. Fr. Cameron entered the seminary after graduating from St. John’s in 2003. As a student at Chaminade, he was influenced by the Marianist brothers. His pastoral year—2005 to 2006—was spent at St. Joseph’s Church in Ronkonkoma, NY.
Father Lee Descoteaux was born in Biddeford, Maine. He attended St. Joseph’s Grammar School, Biddeford, Maine, and Biddeford High School, Biddeford, Maine. He received a bachelor’s degree from Lyndon State College, Lyndonville, VT., in 1993 and a master’s degree from Adelphi University, Garden City, N.Y., in 2002. He worked in the admissions office at Adelphi before entering the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, N.Y., in 2002. His pastoral year—2004 to 2005—was spent at St. Joseph parish, Ronkonkoma, N.Y.
Father Brian Barr a former director of vocations for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He is also the chaplain for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. Fr. Barr was previously the director of campus ministry for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He was ordained in 1993. He graduated with a B.S. in Industrial/Labor Relations from Cornell University.
As in the past, God is calling men today to serve as priests in the Catholic Church. Throughout history, many have been called to the priesthood. They have lived exemplary lives and have extended the mission of Jesus Christ around the world. There are many heroic stories to be told about priests in every age. Yet, today it is harder than in the past to discover God’s call. There are so many valuable ways that you can choose to live your life. There are so many distractions that make it hard to hear God’s voice. Discerning a vocation is a challenge, no doubt about it. It can be especially tough today because others, even parents and friends, may not be encouraging or supportive.
In the world of the Third Millennium, many are hungry to find greater meaning in life, eager to discover some purpose for their life. The life of a priest is focused on helping people address the deeper questions of life. Priests are needed today more than ever. Maybe God is calling you to be a priest? You will not know for sure unless you consider the possibility!
Many people think that once a man enters the seminary, that decision is final. But that is not the case. Discernment continues as he begins preparation for the priesthood. During this time a man enters into deeper prayer to consider if this is the vocation that God is calling him to.
A vocation to the priesthood is countercultural. First of all, it is a response to the love of God in one’s life. Further, is a life of self-sacrifice that is aimed to restore and recover a love of God in the world. The signs in a man that indicate a possible vocation to the priesthood include the following:
Reflect honestly on what is going on inside of you right now. What questions are tugging at your heart and mind?
1. Who am I?
2. What fulfills me?
3. What am I passionate about?
4. Who or what inspires me?
5. What is the purpose of my life?
6. How has God been active throughout my life?
7. When do I feel closest to God?
8. How am I called to serve others?
9. Where will I best fulfill my mission as a disciple of Jesus Christ?
10. Am I attracted by the life that priests and consecrated religious live?
11. Do others tell me they see priestly qualities in me?
Study the Bible, the catechism of the Catholic Church and the lives of the Saints. Look at those ordinary men and women who have wrestled with your very same questions, and lived extraordinary lives because they trusted in God.
Samuel heard a voice calling his name in the night; Eli, his mentor, instructed him to respond to the voice of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:1-10).
With trust, Mary willingly surrendered her entire being to the plan of our Heavenly Father (Luke 1:26-38).
Saul met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus; his life was radically transformed, and he became the great apostle, St. Paul (Acts 9:3-9).
St. John Vianney struggled with his academic studies. After his ordination, he was renowned for his wisdom and spiritual guidance in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
St. Clare of Assisi, a beautiful woman who could have married any nobleman, followed her one true love, Jesus Christ.
Believe that God wants to work in your life just as profoundly and powerfully as he did in the lives of those who faithfully embraced his plan throughout the centuries.
The process you will follow to answer this fundamental question is called discernment. Your vocation as a Christian will be the particular way you live the universal call to holiness. Through prayer, study, conversation with others and reflection, you will be able to discover God’s plan for you. What will be your path to Heaven?
To come to a clearer understanding of the signs by God, prayer is of great value. This consists of the following:
As the calling to Christ wells inside, the next step is to properly vet this calling. The process of discernment is an integral part in understanding the signs God may be placing in your life. The first step of discernment is to contact the Vocation Director of your diocese. The Vocation Director will assist in determining if and how you should fit into the process of priestly formation.
“Who does God want me to be?” and not “What do I want to do with my life?” is the basic question in discernment.
Keep in mind a few things when you believe you have found where you are supposed to be: One is that you feel “at home” there. This is logical, since your vocation is what God meant for you all along. In other words, if you are where He wants you to be you will feel it. Also, it is also important to feel a little overwhelmed. If you don’t you are either in the wrong place or you haven’t understood what exactly it is all about.
Be mindful that discernment is necessary; because without it our actions would not have the consistency reason can give them. Discernment must take place in a climate of faith. It is the perception of God’s action and his call. Discernment is, in itself, a grace. It is definitely more than a fruit of mere intellectual examination and reflection.
Prayer of Thomas Merton
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me
Nor do I really know myself.
And the fact that I think I am following your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
And you will never leave me to face my struggles alone.
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