Tag Archives: seminary

Sell Everything

I began my discernment journey 11 years ago with these two words that kept coming up in prayer, but I wasn’t sure what it really meant.

Months later, I attended a Vocation Discernment Retreat, hoping for God to give me an affirmation that I wasn’t called to the priesthood, so that I could get a confirmation on marrying the girl of my dreams then. But God instead revealed a path that immediately gripped my heart with excitement and joy, even amidst the pain of knowing I would have to leave the one I love with all my heart. I then realized: God was asking me to sell my dreams of marriage, for a higher calling to the priesthood.

Many years later while in my 6th year of seminary formation, I went through a vocation crisis. I was experiencing desolation in prayer, unworthiness in sin, and even an attraction towards someone. I thought God changed His mind, and I was close to calling it quits. That’s when I learnt that just as love is more than a feeling, but a choice, so too is my vocation dependent not just on my feelings, but on a choice to remain faithful regardless of how I was feeling. At this stage, I was asked to sell my need for spiritual consolations.

Recently, after having completed my seminary formation and waiting for my ordination, I went through another round of crisis, feeling frustrated and disappointed with things that seemed to obstruct what I wanted to do in my eventual priesthood. It wasn’t till someone challenged me if I had fully given up my life to Christ that I realize I had placed so much emphasis on my priesthood as the pearl of great price, that I hadn’t really fully given my life to Him who ought to be my pearl of great price. This time, God was asking me to sell my attachment to the vocation of priesthood in order to more fully give my life to Him and really do whatever He tells me. And when I did, all desolation was removed, and I felt immense peace once again.

For now I’ve learnt, that seeking one’s vocation is not about the WHAT, but about WHO am I giving my life entirely to, so that I do whatever He tells me to, even if it means SELLING EVERYTHING.

___

Originally posted on Instagram.

Small Diocese, Great Vocations

The Diocese of Victoria was recently blessed by two wonderful events. We received our new bishop, Bishop Brendan Cahill, and welcomed our largest priestly ordination in diocesan history. I had not known Fr Jacob, and am very happy that he is serving at our parish. He recently shared his time and thoughts for this interview.

[Addendum: In the interview, Fr. Jacob mentions his favorite beer. I do ask that all beer donations be delivered to my house and I will make sure Father Jacob receives them; well, most of them!]

**

JT: Good day Father.  Would you mind sharing a few things about your background? The normal stuff. Where you are from, age, family, favorite Goonies character, etc.

FJK: I was born in Bay City, Texas and grew up out in the country close to Sargent beach.  I went to elementary at my parish school, Holy Cross, and for junior high and high school I went to the public school in Van Vleck where we moved when I was about 13.

As for family, my dad was married before he met my mom and had two kids, my older half-sister and half-brother.  He married my mom and they had me and my younger sister.  All four of the kids are each about 5 years apart.  I’m 27 years old and have been in school for 22 of those years.  I went to college at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio where I majored in Catechetics and Philosophy and then went to theological seminary in Houston at St. Mary’s.

The closest thing I had to a job was a student-work thing I did in college where I got the chance to be part of the maintenance crew. (I was a janitor.)  I did that for about three semesters.  One summer in junior high I worked on a flower farm.  But mostly I just mowed people’s lawns.  And for my favorite Goonies character, I think it would have to be Chunk, mostly because we share a common love of food.

**

JT: What are some of the qualities that make up Fr. Jacob? For instance, what hobbies do you have? Do you enjoy any particular types of books? Do you play an instrument? What is your favorite beer?

FJK:  I think one of my favorite things to do is to chill out on a back porch somewhere, and it’s probably because we used to do this all time at home growing up.  I love just sitting with a small group of people, talking, and having some beers.  The beer of choice would have to be Shiner Bock not only because it’s just a really good beer for all occasions but also because, as a priest of the Diocese of Victoria in Texas, I have to support any beer that’s produced inside the Diocese.

I love to read all types of books.  When I was in junior high and high school I read a lot of Stephen King.  Towards the end of high school and into college I got really into Tolkien.  Now I’ll read pretty much anything but my favorite book right now is Les Miserables.  I love to watch TV and movies, too.  Some favorites: for TV – Lost, House of Cards, The Simpsons, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead; and for movies – Forrest Gump, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Les Miserables (2012 musical version), Calvary, Birdman, Dodgeball, [and] Dumb and Dumber.

I play trumpet and guitar.  I was actually in a cover band at the seminary.  Usually we would perform for different house events but one time we got to play for the grand opening of a winery in Weimar, Texas.  My part was to play acoustic guitar and sing the country songs.

**

JT: If suddenly you found yourself walking in Middle Earth, which Lord of the Rings species would you be? An elf, hobbit, man, dwarf, wizard, ent? Why?

FJK: I would definitely be a hobbit.  I think I tend to be one anyway: meals at all times of the day, smoking a pipe on your porch, drinking a beer or three in the evening, chilling out, and taking it easy.  A simple life for simple folk; I would love that.  But at the same time, what’s so attractive about hobbits is that, though they have small bodies and desire simple lives, they also have grand souls and are still capable of extraordinary and magnanimous feats.  I wouldn’t mind being a hobbit.

**

JT: How long have you been a priest?

FJK: I’ve been a priest for a little over a month, although it’s felt like I’ve been one my entire life.  It’s pretty surreal.

**

JT: When was the first time God nudged you to your vocation? What were your first thoughts and feelings? Who helped nurture your vocation?

FJK: I think the first time I felt called to be a priest was when I was around 10 years old.  I was an altar boy and served all the time so I was around the altar and our pastor a lot.  He would tell me all the time that he was going to retire soon and that he would need a replacement.  He would ask me if I would take his place and called me Fr. Jacob.

I also remember the song, “Here I am Lord”, specifically where it says, “I have heard you calling in the night.  I will go, Lord…” and I would wonder to myself what it would be like to be called by God and to hear His voice.  I wrestled with God a lot, though, and when I got into junior high God and religion were the last things on my mind.  It wasn’t until I got involved in my Life Teen youth group in high school that things really started to stick and I began to take the possibility of a priestly vocation more seriously.

All of the conferences, camps, retreats, and Life Nights gradually moved me in that direction.  I got lots of encouragement from my youth minister and the other core members and plenty of support from my peers.  It was obvious to all of them even when I didn’t really want to see it.  I dated in high school and wanted to be a father and have a big family.  Now I realize that God always wanted me to have those things too but just in a different way.

My parents were very supportive but only after I brought the idea to them.  I don’t remember them ever mentioning vocations in the house growing up, which is probably best because if they would have pushed me, I never would have considered it.  I think they knew it and I know they were praying hard for me.

I was a little nervous when I first decided to give it a shot but it was comforting to know that I would have a long time to discern and that nothing would be set in stone for a while.

**

JT: I think we share somethings in common. We both grew up in the coastal region of Texas in the Diocese of Victoria. We both studied in Ohio. Why on earth did you leave this great state to study there?

FJK: I found out about Franciscan University of Steubenville from one of the summer conferences they put on: Steubenville South in Alexandria, Louisiana.  It was here, at these conferences, that I had many of my biggest conversions (because I needed a whole bunch of them).  And when I got to the end of high school and started thinking about what kind of job I wanted, I could only think of Steubenville.

I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew whatever it was, it was going to be in the Church.  I wanted to give to others the same experiences and opportunities for conversion that I enjoyed when I was in high school.  That’s why I went to Franciscan and studied Catechetics.

I thought maybe if I wasn’t called to be a priest, I could possibly be a teacher or a youth minister.  But although FUS was a great school, I was happy to be back in Texas.  I couldn’t stand being away from Buccee’s and Whataburger for that long.

**

JT: Please describe a day in the life of a seminarian for us. What time did you wake up? How long did you study each day? Etc.

FJK: We would normally start off with Morning Prayer at 7am followed by 30 minutes of silent meditation.  We took a typical college course load – about 15 credits a semester – so you weren’t always in class and it would look different each semester.

The morning block of classes lasted from 8:30-11:15 a.m.  Mass was at 11:30 a.m.  The afternoon block of classes was from 1:15-4 p.m.  Evening Prayer was at 5:45 p.m followed by supper and then night classes were from 7-9:45 p.m.  Our classes were typically an hour and 15 minutes, though we did have some long 3-hour courses.  We would usually have no more than 2-3 classes any given day.  Each year we were also assigned a specific ministry off campus that we would help out at once a week.  Free time could be used however you wanted.

**

JT: What is the funniest thing that you experienced in seminary?

FJK:  This is a hard question because I can’t seem to narrow down all the funny things that happened.  I feel like my whole time at seminary, even though it was really hard at times, was spent laughing.  My friends and I were always hanging out, telling jokes, doing stupid things, and laughing.

I’m pretty sure they all could have been stand-up comedians (one of them actually wrote his own jokes that he would try out on us and entertain us with).  I think it was that constant back and forth, the banter, and hilarious interactions that were the funniest things.  It’s partly what got us through and kept us sane.

**

JT: How about your most soul shaking experience?

FJK: Franciscan University was a normal co-ed liberal arts college.  So although I was in the priestly discernment program, we still had classes and regular interactions with the rest of the student population.  And our groups of friends reflected that – guys, girls, different majors, and classes – it was generally pretty mixed.  The guys in the discernment program weren’t totally isolated from everyone else, which was a real blessing.

The problem for me, though, was that I accidentally fell head-over-heels in love with one of my female friends; and she with me.  I felt like my entire being wanted to quit discerning, leave the program, and start a new life with this girl.  But at the same time I could still feel a subtle and almost imperceptible drawing to the priesthood.  It was a very dark, painful, and confusing time and lasted for about 6 months.

It’s kind of hard to put into words.  It was like God had stripped me of everything I thought priesthood and discernment was supposed to be.  He took away all the reasons I wanted to be a priest and brought me to the very foundations of my soul; deeper than my ideals, desires, fears, or infatuations.  And then He spoke silently and invited me once more.  And I said ‘Yes’ and was flooded with clarity, light, and peace.

That was when I knew that even though I sometimes find marriage attractive and desire to be a father and have a family of my own, at the core of my heart – the deepest part of me – God calls me to be His priest.  And I yearn to follow Him.  It hasn’t been perfect every day since then.  There have been ups and downs.  But I have never regretted the decision I made to continue discerning.  And now that I’m a priest, I can say that it was all worth it.

**

JT: Now describe a day in the life of a newly ordained priest of Jesus Christ.

FJK:  It depends on the day but it has similar elements to my seminary schedule: Morning Prayer and some meditation when I wake up, Mass every day, Evening Prayer usually before supper, etc.  I also have been keeping office hours, which is another thing that’s pretty new for me.  I even got my own office.

What I really like is that the perpetual adoration chapel is just right next door so I go there all the time throughout the day.  Lately, I’ve been writing a lot of thank you notes, trying to get to know the staff and memorize names, visiting people, and meeting with whoever comes in the office.  It hasn’t been too busy yet but I expect it to get that way soon.

**

JT: What were some of your greatest fears in being called to the priesthood? How did you overcome those fears?

FJK:  Some of my greatest and most common fears were the fear that I wouldn’t be satisfied or happy as a priest, that God isn’t real, that the Church and all her teachings are made up, and that priesthood would be a waste of my life.  First and foremost, I think the only way I was able to overcome those fears was with God’s grace.

There is absolutely no way that I could have done any of it on my own.  But I also wrestled with God a lot and would struggle and seek for answers and pray and then wait.  Lots of patience and lots of trust, not to mention the fact that I didn’t have to understand the big picture or have all the answers at once; these were all essential in getting to where I’m at now.

**

JT: What were some of your greatest dreams of becoming a priest? What parts of the priesthood did you find especially attractive?

FJK:  I was tired of how often I was hearing, “I was used to be Catholic…  I grew up Catholic… My parents were Catholic…”  I wanted to bring back to the Church as many people as I possibly could.  Really, I hoped to be a witness to my extended family, most of whom are no longer practicing Catholics, and maybe at least influence them in some positive way with regards to the Church.  The part of priesthood that I originally found to be the most attractive was the Mass, now I would say that it’s hearing confessions.

**

JT: Do you have any special devotions to any particular saints? Do you recommend any devotions? If so, what are they?

FJK: St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, was an obvious one for me starting out.  He lived an extraordinary life and was incredibly holy and I wanted to be like him, to put love where there was none.

Now I gravitate more to the big Carmelite saints – Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux.  I read a lot of their writings and found them to be extremely attractive, especially in the ways they describe prayer.  The depth of their understanding and experience makes me want to pray more, to have the same relationship with God that they enjoyed.  It’s also a strong affirmation for me that God is real, that He is present, that He wants to be in relationship with me, and that I will never be able to exhaust the depths of His beautiful eternity.

Another saint I go to a lot is St. Anthony of Padua, not only because he helps me find things that I lose all the time, but also because he was a great preacher.  I ask him for help a lot.  I don’t really have any particular or special devotion, just the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet.  Stick with those and you’ll be fine.  I’m thinking about starting to do the St. Michael chaplet.  I hear it’s a pretty good one.

 

ID-100321538

**

JT: We live in a very secular culture, how do you recommend we evangelize these modern times?

FJK: Be converted to the very core; let God heal every wound you have – spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical; put on the mind of Christ; learn what the Church teaches, struggle with it; and then be yourself.  I think a lot of times we overthink evangelization and want to have a plan or a program or some kind of trick to make it easier.

When we have God at the center of our lives, when we try to stay close to Him and frequent the sacraments it ought to shine through in everything we do.  So don’t be weird or reactionary and don’t try too hard, as if it all depended on you.  Let the Holy Spirit do His job.  Make friends, have fun, laugh often, be generous and genuine, authentic, and introduce people to the love of your life.

Individual Christians are usually not called to convert the whole world on their own but rather should try to positively impact their immediate sphere of influence.  Start with getting the beam out of your own eye and then go from there.

**

JT: The Supreme Court recently ruled on same sex marriage. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote “Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.” When I first read this, I thought of the many wonderful priests and religious I have encountered. Because you are excluded from this ancient institution of marriage, do you feel lonely?

FJK: Loneliness is an inevitable part of our fallen human condition.  Everybody will have to deal with it in some form or fashion and a decision from the Supreme Court isn’t going to magically fix it.  Whether you’re married, single, a priest, or a nun, we all get lonely sometimes.  And I have to struggle with it from time to time, too.  But the only one who can save us from our existential, lonely isolation is the One who created us and made us to be in relationship with Him.

**

JT: Loneliness is a horrible situation to live. I know married couples, widows, elderly, young men and women that are lonely. What would you advise others that are experiencing loneliness?

FJK: Never allow yourself to think that you have no options or that there is no hope.  Walk into the dark painfulness of your loneliness and invite God to dwell there.  And be patient.  Also, stay in relationship with other people.  Find ways to be intimate without necessarily being sexual, be authentic; find friends that you’re able to share your true self with; serve, be generous, get out of yourself, and make a gift of yourself.  Stay involved with the Church and stay close to God.  He’ll help you.

**

JT: Do you have any parting words of wisdom for us here?

FJK: Don’t stop praying.

 

Image courtesy of stockdevil at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Is Religious Life Repulsive?

Religious LifeThe vows of religious life are repulsive, at least according to an article Br. Justin Hannegan recently wrote in Crisis Magazine provokingly titled: Sacrificing Religious Life on the Altar of Egalitarianism.

He writes:

All forms of religious life, at their very core, consist of three vows—poverty, chastity, and obedience—and each of these vows is repulsive … No one has an innate desire to uproot three of life’s greatest goods.  Such a desire would be mere perversion.

Br. Justin’s argument is that vocations directors need to leave behind the language of desire when talking about vocation. He argues:

The prevailing opinion amongst those who talk and write about discernment is that God calls men and women to religious life by placing an innate desire for religious life in their hearts.  If you have no such desire, it is unlikely that you are called. This advice, although it looks harmless on the surface, ends up thwarting religious vocations. 

My first thought upon reading this article was this guy is on to something. When I was discerning, I listened to a lot of people talk about discernment and give their vocation stories and the one story that spoke most to me was a talk that Fr. Stan Fortuna, CFR gave at a conference in the Bay Area. In it, he described his reaction to God’s call to religious life by shaking his fist at heaven and yelling, “Nooooooo!”

Nowadays, telling most young people, “If you are not attracted to religious life then it is not for you” is just not the right advice. Unless you have lived a life of radical virtue in today’s culture, chances are you are not going to feel a natural desire to the religious life. Young people will be more likely to feel an infatuation that flees when confronted with reality or simply feel repelled from it on every level. I do differ with Br. Justin in that, despite this reality, I still think talking to young people about desire is important.

The Language of Desire in Discernment

We are beings of desire and we cannot discount them. They reveal deep spiritual realities. St. Ignatius discerned his vocation through very careful attention to his desires and he taught that key is ordering our desires. The Christian life is about following Jesus who perfectly ordered his human desires to the Father’s will.

However, these days, young people must dig deeply to unearth a radical desire for holiness that is strong enough to combat the many temptations against living religious life. But we cannot discount the power of the desire for holiness once it is unearthed and ordered.

We also should not leave behind the language of desire for one of “effectiveness.” To encourage young people to take up the religious life because it is a more “effective” way to holiness, as Br. Justin seems to encourage, is a quick path to Pelagianism. Religious life is not about attaining holiness efficiently, it is about living our human desire and love for God in a special way. Our life cannot be lived without love; otherwise, the vows will indeed become repulsive and masochistic. The vows are desirable but only insofar as they bring us closer in love to Christ who lived them and in that religious find solace and true joy.

Is Religious Life Objectively Superior?

In his article, Br Justin points to the “objective superiority” of the religious life as something that should be unabashedly pointed out to young people discerning

I agree that religious do have a special call. It is not something to be apologetic about. Religious are not special in and of themselves, but the call is special. Why is it special? Because the life, more than married life, imitates the life of Jesus and foretells the kingdom of God.

However, I would like to point out two things. Br. Justin quotes Vita Consecrata, the papal document in which Blessed John Paul II writes: “This is why Christian tradition has always spoken of the objective superiority of the consecrated life.” The Latin phrase in the document for “superiority” is praestantia and it can be translated as “excellence” and is translated that way in the Italian version of the document. I think this is a better translation.

Unfortunately, for many years Catholic faithful believed that the religious vocation was “superior” to the lay vocation. If one didn’t become a religious then sanctity and holiness was not for them. Br. Justin is correct in challenging the pendulum swing that now tells people it doesn’t matter. However he misses the key issue of calling.

Generally, we can speak of the consecrated life as “more excellent” than any other way of life precisely because it imitates Jesus and foretells the kingdom of God, and the way of life to which we all are called. However, on an individual level, we cannot speak of an objective excellence in the call to religious life. Religious life is not the objectively more excellent way of life for everyone. The vocation that God calls a person to is “objectively superior” to any other way of life because God has called that person to holiness through that particular vocation. I do not think we should shy away from emphasizing the special call that is a religious vocation, but it must be done with care and nuance.

– – –

In the end, Br Justin’s article seems to be a call to go back to the past but I respectfully respond with a call to go forward with balance. Our numbers will never be the same as they were in the “good ol’ days” and it is cause for some lament but we have also grown as a Church and as religious. But along with Br. Justin I do see some things that could change in the current approach to religious vocations. So, I join him in his forthright and frank challenge for change and conversation about the way we speak about religious vocations– for the sake of the Church and the sake of young people who need help in hearing God’s call.

Distance Learning with Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Holy Apostles College and Seminary (HACS) is one of two non-residential Colleges recommended by the Cardinal Newman Society—a huge honor and privilege for any school making the short list. See that recommendation here. With a robust catolog and an honorary team of professors, HACS is the best kept secret in Catholic education. A humble size of online students make for a 1:9 student to faculty ratio. With names like Patrick Madrid, Dr. Donald DeMarco, Dr. John Finley, Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Dr. Daniel Van Slyke, Dr. Alan Vincelette, Dr. Philippe Yates, and Fr. Brian Mullady, the HACS student receives a top-shelf education and experience.

I conducted an interview with Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP, who is the Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Vice-President of Administration, and Director of Assessment for Holy Apostles College & Seminary. Dr. Mahfood is excited to tell the world about what HACS offers and what the future holds for prospective distance learning students.

What degree offerings are available online?

Holy Apostles College & Seminary offers an Associate of Arts in Theology, a Bachelor of Arts in History in the Social Sciences, English and the Humanities, Philosophy and Theology, and a Master of Arts in Theology, Philosophy, and Pastoral Studies. The college also has certificates available in each of its theology concentrations and sponsors a post-master’s certificate program in theology. At present, students can pursue up to 50% of their Associate, Bachelor of Arts and post-master’s certificate degree programs and theology certificates completely online and 100% of their Master of Arts degree programs completely online.

Are different concentrations in Theology available?

Holy Apostles College & Seminary currently offers twelve theology concentrations, including Apologetics, Bioethics (in collaboration with the National Catholic Bioethics Center), Canon Law, Church History, Divine Worship & Sacraments, Dogmatic Theology, Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Philosophical Theology, Sacred Scripture, Spiritual Theology, and Theology & Science.

What sets HACS apart from other distance learning programs, and Theology programs in general?

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is an orthodox Catholic program grounded in the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas with a mission to cultivate lay, consecrated and ordained Catholic leaders for the purpose of evangelization. We are not only a college but also a seminary that forms priests for dioceses and religious orders across the country, and we allow our lay students to study in the same academic courses with our seminarians for the greater good of both. Our online programs are thus designed for the inclusion of lay, consecrated and ordained Catholic leaders, and we find that we have a large number of students who already have professional degrees and are able to apply their rich life experiences to the growth of the community of learners they will find in each of their classes. Our online teaching faculty are dedicated to the intellectual, spiritual and moral growth of each of our students, and this is evident in the kind of classes they build within the programs in which they teach. In this way, we are not just an academic program for lay students but a program that seeks the growth of the whole person.

How would you describe the student body?

The student body is mostly comprised of lay, consecrated and ordained Catholics, but we welcome all persons with a desire to study in this kind of a community and have a number of non-Catholic students, Protestant mainline, Evangelical and others already working their way through a degree program. As Catholics, we understand our mission is to all peoples, and we welcome everyone with a desire to be formed in our mission.

What’s on the horizon for new educational opportunities at HACS (Certificates, Doctoral, Bachelors via DL)?

Holy Apostles College & Seminary expects to have all of its undergraduate offerings 100% online by early spring, 2014, and all of its theology certificate programs and post-master’s certificate programs online by summer, 2014. Throughout the spring of 2014, the college will also pursue the development of a post-master’s certificate program in philosophy. The college has a special interest in the pursuit of a completely online 36-credit doctoral program in philosophy and theology.

In addition, the college has just entered into an agreement with the Adler-Aquinas Institute to offer a Great Books major on the undergraduate level, which is expected to launch in the fall of 2014, a Thomistic Studies concentration in the graduate philosophy program along with a Christian Wisdom concentration in the theology program.

What career opportunities exist for a Philosophy or Theology major?

Persons majoring in philosophy or theology on the undergraduate level can pursue many types of careers, including teaching in private elementary and secondary schools and working in various apostolates within their home dioceses. Many students who complete their undergraduate degrees in philosophy or theology will continue their studies on the graduate level, receiving master of arts degrees that open up new possibilities in various apostolates like chaplaincy, in diocesan or parish ministry and in teaching at community colleges or within the undergraduate programs on the university level. Some students who complete their graduate degrees in philosophy or theology will continue their studies on the doctoral level, receiving doctorates that open up new possibilities for teaching on the undergraduate or graduate levels or of working within or alongside various national organizations such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate or the National Catholic Educational Association, to name a few.

What is the “MOOC”?

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is the first Catholic college ever to have offered a Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, beginning in the fall of 2012. The college has since sponsored a few MOOCs each term into which anyone with an interest in the subject matter may enroll at no charge via http://www.hacsmooc.cc. The idea behind the MOOCs is to extend the reach of the college’s mission into those publics that are not currently part of the institution’s learning community and to make available additional study opportunities for those who are. The MOOCs that are offered every semester include Online Teaching and Learning, Teaching Research Design, and MOOC Design – each through collaboration with the Catholic Distance Learning Network. Other MOOCs are offered periodically, such as Consecration to Jesus through Mary, Dante’s Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, Lenten Journey with Jesus: A Virtual Tour of Jesus’s Last 40 Days, and Atheism and the New Atheism. New MOOCs are introduced by our faculty each term, and the new collaboration with the Adler-Aquinas Institute will result in additional MOOCs offered in Great Books and in Neo-Thomism.

Where can I go to learn more about Holy Apostles?

To learn more about Holy Apostles College & Seminary, please visit us online at http://www.holyapostles.edu, or join one of our social media sites on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter @holyapostlesedu.

Help Wanted in Vocations

Beginning my new job in vocations this summer has been an amazing experience.  Not only have I come to truly appreciate the importance of this ministry, I have also noticed that even with the amount of resources available, there is still something lacking.  As with any job or ministry, there are people who are invested in the success and improvement of it.  For example, in the business world, companies hire consultants to assist their various departments to improve productivity and growth.  Companies that do not change, adapt, and improve upon “the way things have always been done” will be left in the dust by their competition.  In the ministry of vocations, it is imperative that we listen to the voices of our “consultants,” the People of God to improve our efforts to help people answer God’s call in their lives.

A vocations office is not merely a recruitment office for priests and religious.  In fact, if these offices are focused primarily on the quantity of men they accept into the seminary, they can be likened to a corporation that simply mass produces their products looking to fill shelves rather than focusing on the quality of the product and how it affects the consumer.  A vocations office (or any ministry for that matter) cannot be a business.  Christianity is about developing and fostering a personal relationship with Christ and his Church.  Therefore each Christian ministry must flow from that understanding.

Where do we learn about fostering relationships?  From the earliest moments of our lives, our social and relational development stems from within our families.  I constantly catch myself interacting with my wife and son the way in which my father acted with my mother and me.  When I look at men and women who are discerning the priesthood or religious life, I often notice that they were exposed to priests, brothers, and sisters at one point in their life and had a profound experience and relationship with them.  I witness parents with young children bringing them to volunteer days and events hosted by religious communities and I pray that from those experiences a vocation will be fostered.  On a side note, when praying for a vocation to be fostered, it cannot be limited to one way of life.  For instance I cannot pray that my son grows up to be a priest.  Moreover, I must only pray that he be open to God’s call in his life and that he truly discerns through his relationship with the Lord, whatever that may be.  Back to the point, it is my duty to expose him and help him develop positive relationships with different priests, religious orders, and holy families.

Recently I have had numerous parents approach me asking how they can lead their children to their individual vocation.  In the weeks to come, I will be publishing resources and guides for parents on “How to react to a Child’s desire to be a priest or religious,” “Dos and Don’ts of Nurturing Vocations in the Home,” and “How to Pray with Your Kids.”  Some parents worry when their child (of any age) mentions that they want to be a priest or enter a religious community.  First things first-thank God that you are doing something right!  As with anything your child says they want to do or become (so long as it is healthy and good), encourage it with love and a genuine interest in it.  Parents, I need you to be a consultant for vocations. Let your priests and local vocation directors know what your kids want to know about priesthood or religious life.  Ask questions on how to better the fostering of vocations at home, in school, and in parishes.  This vital ministry cannot be left to Vocations offices—it’s too important and must always be seeking to improve.  Help wanted for the future of the Church – inquire within.