The Bishop Writes

"Vocations: Everyone is called by God"

by Bishop William S. Skylstad

(From the Oct. 3, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

This issue of the Inland Register features a special emphasis on vocations.

Everyone has a vocation. A vocation is a calling – what God is asking us to do with the gift of our lives. By far, the majority of people hear God calling them to live lives in the context of the sacrament of marriage – committed to one another, committed to family, committed to long-term relationship. God calls, and so very many good, dedicated people answer that incredibly vital calling, answering it every day, in ways large and small.

God also calls people to Religious life – as Sisters, as Brothers, as priests who live in specific Religious orders. In our diocese we see the strong witness of so many communities of dedicated women Religious. The Franciscan and Jesuit priests and Brothers have demonstrated their call to live the Gospel within the particular charisms of their communities as well.

Our culture today is a mixed blessing. We have media content available to us 24/7 – radio, television, computers, the Internet; magazines, newspapers, books. This can be an incredible, abundant blessing. Sadly, many of the messages we hear – the calls we hear within the context of modern media – are calls which are contrary to our Christian calling – our calling to committed relationships, to lives of integrity and honesty, to faithfulness, to lives that are truly lived as God asks us to live.

When we talk about vocations, we talk about God’s loving call – a call God issues to each and every one of us. Whatever form that call might take – to loving marriage; to the single life; to life in a Religious community – this call is God beckoning us to live more closely with him. It is an invitation to relationship with our loving Creator. Especially, during Vocations Awareness Month, we talk about the call of God, the loving invitation, to Religious life, and to priesthood – especially diocesan priesthood in sacramental service to the people of God in Eastern Washington.

In our culture today, with its abundance of messages, it is so very easy to become distracted – to lose track of the basic call of God to live a Christian life.

Even more, the life of a diocesan priest flies in the face of so much of today’s popular culture. My own life as a priest has been one of joy and deep, deep satisfaction. This is true as well for so many of the diocesan priests I have known over the years, and for the many good and dedicated priests who minister with me in Eastern Washington. Priests have the opportunity to share in their people’s most important moments: baptism, marriage and, yes, death. To gather with God’s people to celebrate the great gift that is Eucharist. To work together with God’s people to create community, to celebrate and spread God’s saving message, to preach the Good News of the Gospel.

Yet these are not the sorts of messages we hear very often in today’s popular culture. They are not the sorts of lives which often are presented as ultimately enviable, something to strive for.

But popular or not, still these messages bear core truths of God’s loving call, loving invitation to relationship.

And so, as we mark Vocations Awareness Month, I ask families to pray for vocations – and to pray that those God calls to priesthood, to Religious life, will accept the grace to listen and to follow their own call from God. For young people to consider the possibility of exploring life as a priest in the Spokane Diocese. To listen for that call from God, that loving invitation – to listen to it, and respond: “Here I am, Lord – send me.”

(For more information about vocations and priestly formation in the Diocese of Spokane, call the diocese’s Vocations Director, Father Darrin Connall, at Bishop White Seminary: 326-3761.)

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