awakening the vision
To say a yes to God means answering a call, rather than initiating it. The process leading to that answer and later affirmation by the Church is called discernment. In some ways, vocation discernment is similar to career planning. Both involve recognizing talents and personality traits suited to work tasks. However, recognizing a vocation is so much more than deciding on a career. We choose our career. Our vocation is God’s choice of us.
As a teacher, catechist, school administrator or staff, you can help your students develop openness to the possibility of priesthood, religious or consecrated life. Their discernment process might begin with you!
How-To's of Promoting Vocations:
Although how you promote vocations is as individual as each teacher and the student, the SPARKS acronym and a list of personal characteristics applicable to ministry may provide a starting point for developing your own action plan.
Spot the signals, using the characteristics listed in this guide.
Pray for the ability to see your students as God sees them. Pray specifically for those students who have qualities of potential Church leaders. Foster prayer among your students to know and be faithful to the vocation to which God is inviting them.
Accent discovery. Encourage students to explore opportunities to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by helping others at school, at home, in the Church, or in the community, either individually or through involvement in service projects.
Reach out. Even amidst the time constraints of curriculum requirements and your schedule outside the classroom, be open to conversation about vocations. If you notice a student with gifts applicable to ministry, ask if the student has ever thought about ordination or religious life. With a student’s permission, talk to his or her parents about your observations.
Keep communicating. Develop a list of people who are willing to answer your students questions about the priesthood or religious life. Have a Vocations Day in your school or classroom by inviting one or more speakers (ordained, religious, seminarians, novices, etc.) to talk about vocations. Have up-to-date vocations resources visible in your classroom and handouts or brochures readily available. The Office of Vocations for the diocese can be of assistance in helping you promote vocations.
Support the process. Foster a classroom environment in which the call to ministry is esteemed—where considering a religious vocation is valued and encouraged. Integrate vocations topics into lesson plans for various subjects. For example, use priests or sisters in math story problems. In language arts, use vocation questions as journal topics
Teachers, catechists, school administrators and staff are often role models to their students. It would be helpful to take some time to reflect upon your own call to holiness and your important mission as a Catholic educator and mentor. Foster devotion to the lives of the saints among your students.
As an educator, be on the lookout for emerging qualities that apply to vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Point out these qualities to students, and encourage your students to consider that God may be calling them to serve Him and His Church as a priest, brother sister or deacon.
Qualities for Middle School Students:
- Interacting or relating well with others and with a healthy sense of humor
- Respect for those in authority
- Openness and interest in serving others.
- Ability to forgive
- Willingness to take a stand for the truth
Additional Qualities for High School Students:
- Chaste and modest
- Leadership and initiative
- Critical thinking
- Energy and stamina
- At home in their relationship with Christ and His Church
- Care for others as well as self
- Cooperativeness in teamwork
- Humility, and a healthy sense of humor