Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Ready to build

by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register

(From the Oct. 26, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)

Father Michael Savelesky A recent construction project recently found me musing over several architectural drawings. As my eyes followed the blue lines and converging dots and dashes, something warmed inside of me. Another childhood memory … I used to entertain dreams about being an architect. I recall how I used to draw out in fine detail the furnishings for our family dog. Many an hour would I spend sketching buildings and watching local construction workers. Even in high school drama class, I would put pen and paper to the design of sets and the blocking of performances.

Had anyone asked me back then what I wanted to become in life, I would have gleefully responded: an architect (probably pronouncing the word, though, with something that sounded more like archie-teck). At least that was one possibility which presented itself in an expanding list of future occupations.

After all, adults were always querying me about what I was going to do. My older brothers and sisters had found their niches in life, but what about me?

It can be difficult to choose an occupation. By the grace of God and the wise counsel of some very important women Religious and laity in my life, I have never ended up making that decision. I have not chosen an occupation – a livelihood, if you will. I have said yes, however, to a vocation.

By some standards, priesthood is an occupation. Its busy schedules and pressures certainly appear to make it appear so.

And yes, it, too, was on my list of possibilities. My friends and counselors gently and sometimes firmly led me from a preoccupation about occupations to a deeper mode of listening to what I was as a person, a son of God.

Our culture views occupations and vocations in opposition to one another, as if they were vying for the soul. Priests or Religious are somehow portrayed as those who have rejected those worldly parts of themselves that are not purely spiritual or “churchy.” Presumably, one who has responded to a vocation is one who has pursued an other-worldly walk of life.

There are definite aspects of priesthood or Religious life which are distinct from a mere occupation. The Christian call to holiness, however, does not oppose God’s call and our personal gifts, talents and competencies.

Christian vocation is not a matter of choosing the one over the other; it is a matter of integration and wholeness. God calls to the whole person.

An important part of maturing is to discover and affirm oneself and all that God and life have made us to be. Talents, skills and abilities blend together to blossom into the unique sacraments of God’s love that we are.

We hear much today about “everyone having a vocation.” Unfortunately, the phrase is usually understood in terms of church ministries: to each his/her own. Yet it is profoundly true that we each have a vocation. As Bishop Topel used to remind us, our first vocation in life is to become a saint and to do God’s will. Our sanctity and God’s will are to be found in the deepest, truest parts of ourselves.

It takes time – and sometimes some erroneous wanderings – to find that place where we are at home with who we are. Occupations notwithstanding, happiness will not come until that is where we dwell.

Once at home with ourselves and our true vocation, this business of occupations falls into perspective. It matters little what I do; it is who I am that counts. Priesthood is who I am – it is how the mystery of God’s grace has been at work in my life.

And yes, I still find time for my hobbies. Just ask a parishioner where they might find me in my spare time. That’s right: probably remodelling a room or drawing the plans for some future project…

(Father Savelesky is pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane.)

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