Last week I promised to put out a series of bulletin articles telling my vocation story, “the call” as many say. I would like to start by saying, that everyone (young and old, rich or poor, short or tall, man or woman) has a vocation or a “call” by God. That vocation is in essence means listening to a voice that speaks deep within the human mind and heart. Ultimately, I believe, it is a call to spend our life, to serve, or to lay down our very self for another. This can take many shapes and forms. To serve and to lay down your life to me is the single, most-important, common element of any vocation in Christ. As I jokingly say, “A vocation not to be confused with a vacation!” which we also all need at times. This voice, this call to serve is something we all must come to terms with and wrestle with as trues disciples of Christ.
My story begins by growing up in a traditional Catholic family home and farm with 8 brothers and sisters. I was number 6 in line. Mom was your typical farm wife, a jack-of-all-trades who gardened, canned, cooked, helped with chores as needed, kept house and provided what love and attention she could to all 8 of us. Dad was a strict, honest, and hardworking man of great integrity. He expected a lot! He mostly worked in the barn, in the shop, or in the fields taking care of business outside. Both parents taught us strong work ethic, be independent, and take responsibility for our self. As a family we always went to church, but we didn’t talk about our faith much outside that context. Like all good Catholics, we sat in the last pews! Little did I know one day I would end up front! One thing that sticks in my mind growing up is that no matter how busy we were, when it came to supper time, mom made sure we all sat at one table together prayed and ate our meal together each night. That was the one moment in the day when we were “family” each seated in their place. Looking back, I realize this made a great impression upon my life and was very Eucharistic in a sense. Psychologists have since long known that families who make it a point to share a meal, to eat together at least once a week, experience less trouble and delinquency. In that case, mom was way ahead of her time.
Growing up, like any boy, I got in my share of trouble at home. There was fun and blood shared by all! As a teenager I learned how to work hard by day and play hard by night, sometimes staying out later than I should. My friends and I often went on “group dates” but never got too serious about any boy-girl relationships. We were too busy having fun! With regard to my Catholic Faith, I could take it or leave it on my own terms. I can honestly say becoming a priest was absolutely the last thing on my mind. My vocation, or “The call” for me came at a time and a place where I least expected. Stay tuned. There is more to come….