Discernment Retreat: No longer hide and seek

Moreau seminarians on retreat

This past weekend, the Office of Vocations hosted an amazing 23 vocations prospects. Nineteen of them attended the annual College Discernment Retreat held at the Holy Cross Center in La Porte, Ind. Running point on the retreat for the Office of Vocations was Fr. Drew Gawrych, C.S.C., the associate director, and he filed the following post on the retreat.

Hide and seek. As I told the 19 young men on our College Discernment Retreat this past weekend, many of us who desire to do God’s will in our lives often find the search for our vocation to be a game of hide and seek. It is like we are in grade school all over again, except this time the game is not as fun.

Fr Jim Gallagher, CSC preaching at Mass

This feeling, although quite common among young people discerning religious life and the priesthood, is totally unnecessary. If we think about it for a moment, why would the God who loves us and wants us to do His will ever hide our vocations from us? The answer, of course, is that He wouldn’t and, more importantly, He doesn’t. And yet we experience our discernment as a game of hide and seek with God because we have never been taught how to discern or, in the case of priesthood and religious life, what it is that we are really discerning. If we just had that discernment road map, then we would find that discerning our vocations actually becomes much less difficult and perhaps even easy.

With that firm conviction, I made the promise to the young men at the start of the retreat that although they might not leave the retreat knowing what their particular vocation is, they would leave knowing the next step to discovering it. And based on the feedback we got from the men on the retreat, I would say that God made good on the promise. Having learned some basic principles of discernment as well as having received a better idea of what life in the seminary and ministry as a priest and religious really are like – and often it is different than what they previously thought – they were able to find some much needed clarity and direction in their discernment.

Fr. Ken Molinaro, C.S.C.
Giving a talk on discernment

On Christ the King weekend last year, I was shepherding almost 70 adults at St. John Vianney Parish through the Rites of Welcome and Acceptance in preparation for their Easter Sacraments. It certainly is a bit of a contrast with how I spent Christ the King weekend this year. While it is a reminder of what I gave up in leaving the parish to do full-time vocation ministry, I feel extremely blessed and am extremely thankful to be ministering in the Office of Vocations. While the young men on the retreat spoke of the great joy and strength they drew from being with their peers discerning the same calling, it was also a tremendous joy and source of strength for me to be with them.

Seminarian Panel

Each day I have the blessing of working with young men who find priesthood and religious life in Holy Cross to be an attractive calling, something they believe will not only give them life but allow them to lay down their lives for others in a Christ-like way. Working with them gives me great life and inspires me to lay down my life ever more for them and for Christ, so that this great band of men we call Holy Cross might grow and ever more make God known, loved, and served.

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