For nine years of my Priesthood, I was the vocation director for the Diocese of Jefferson City.
That means I was blessed and honored to travel across 38 counties in rural Missouri to all Catholic churches, schools and any other place Catholics would gather to talk about God’s calling for people in their lives.
For most, it would be to the great vocation of marriage; for some to the Priesthood or religious life (a religious brother or priest or a religious sister).
In the Catholic Church, we recently celebrated the Solemnity of Pentecost, the coming down of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.
With the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles had more clear direction as to where to go, what to say and what to do in fulfilling God’s plan for them and for His Church.
How did they receive and act upon the gift of the Holy Spirit? By being in constant communion, constant communication with the three persons in one God.
They prayed and in prayer asked God what they were supposed to do and say and where they were supposed to go.
Maybe at one point, Peter, James and John thought, “When I grow up, I want to be a fisherman.”
Matthew might have thought, “I think when I get older I will be a tax collector.”
God also had plans for them.
God, the Son of Man, Son of God came up to all three of them and said, “Come follow Me.”
And they left their careers and followed Him.
We live on the other side of the resurrection; we live with the Holy Spirit as our advocate.
And God has a purpose and a plan for each one of us. We simply need to ask Him what it is and how he wants us to live it.
Our young people are constantly asked how they want to make money when they get older; it comes in the form of “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
My guess is that young people are looking at their skills, what passions they have, and trying to line that up with a career path. Maybe they’ve seen someone do this type of work and they want to imitate them. I’m not sure.
What I do believe is that when we ask a young person, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” it’s kind of like putting them in a boat in the middle of the ocean without a compass, oars, motor or sails and saying, “Find your way to shore.”
Getting to shore can be done; it will be any shore that the currents and winds take them.
But, there are better ways to get to shore. There are better ways to ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
The question is, “What are God’s plans for you as you grow in relationship to Him?”
The answer will always be the same: “Holiness; to be with Him. And, now fellow Church members, will you pray with me to help me discover how God is calling me to live this?”
Then, we ask the Lord what He is calling this young person to become by means of the skills, gifts, talents, true passions and true desires God placed within the person.
Remind them to pray for their future spouse. Ask them to pray about who they are to become in marriage and in raising a family. God will direct them toward their career, too.
Then, let’s all help raise our young people to be focused on other people, to be helpful, to be of service. This is surely what God wants because it is what is said throughout the Bible: to be for others as Christ was for others.
Many believe the Priesthood shortage is because we don’t marry and because only men are priests.
The truth is, the Priesthood shortage is a symptom of a problem; there is a shortage in all areas of service: other denominations need more to study to be ordained ministers; there is a shortage of nurses, teachers and almost all areas of the service industry.
We are all called to love and serve others; it’s how we were created. First to love and serve our God, then to love and serve our neighbor.
Let’s ask the Lord to help us and our young people know His will and show us how to live it.
Fr. Corel is pastor in solidum of St. Vincent de Paul Parish of Pettis County. This article was originally published in the June 4, 2021, edition of the Sedalia Democrat newspaper (sedaliademocrat.com).