As part of National Vocation Awareness Week Nov. 5-11, vocation directors from around the diocese organized a panel discussion in which the public was invited to ask questions about discerning vocations.
The panel was held Nov. 9 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. It featured Benedictine Brother Paul-Vincent Niebauer, vocation director of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville; Franciscan Sister Michelle L’Allier, vocation director of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls; Father Ben Kociemba; assistant director of the diocesan Vocation Office; Crosier Father Dave Donnay, vocation director for the Crosier Community in Onamia; and Benedictine Sister Lisa Rose, vocation director of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph.
The Poor Clare sisters in Sauk Rapids, who are a cloistered community, participated through prayer during both the panel session and the Mass of Thanksgiving for all vocations that followed the discussion.
Each panelist shared a brief narrative of his or her vocation story and then fielded questions from the audience.
Below are 10 things the directors shared throughout the conversation about discerning a vocation:
1. Be “interior people.”
Learn to be comfortable in the quiet; spend time in silence to look inside your heart. In the quiet, we realize that something is leading us to a deeper peace. When we search for our vocation, it’s a matter of what leaves us with the most joy and the most peace.
We often ask ourselves, “What is the will of God in my life?” Ask yourself not only what is God’s will but also what is God’s dream for you and what do you dream for yourself? Then ask how those paths best unite.
3. Pay attention to the “fire in your belly.”
Focus on what gives you passion. Discernment is usually a decision between two good choices. Ask yourself which one gives you more joy, more peace.
4. Find someone to accompany you on your discernment path.
Spiritual accompaniment is a way we come to know our inner life, how God has created us and what it is that brings us to our potential that we’ve been created for. Find a soul friend, a spiritual director, a spiritual companion to walk with you. None of us are meant to go to God alone.
5. Listen, pray and dare.
It’s not easy; a lot of times you might feel like you’re going against the flow. It’ll take guts. But when it’s the fullness of what God has created, everybody wins.
6. Examine your prayer life.
Challenge yourself to do a little more — attend daily Mass, go to adoration, read the Bible each day.
7. Get to know those who have said “yes” to a vocation.
Whether it’s a priest, a religious sister or brother, a married or single person, build relationships and ask questions.
8. Be open to what others are saying about you.
Often you might see yourself in one vocation, but others might see something you don’t.
9. Stick your big toe in many waters.
When considering a vocation, check out your options. Visit different communities, seminaries, etc.
10. Cultivate a practice of mindfulness.
Ask yourself each day what you are most grateful for and what you are least grateful for. Tracking that over time gives us an indication of how we are made and what gives us the most life.