The word vocation comes from a Latin word meaning “to call”.
In everyday language vocation can mean our job or occupation, but when we are looking at things from a background of faith, it is usually understood as the call that God gives us through our baptism to grow more like Jesus Christ – to share his life and love, to be holy and to offer our gifts and talents in the service of God and for the benefit of other people.
In the Catholic Church
There are four main states of life which a person can follow in responding to the invitation that God gives:
- that of a single person
- a married person
- a member of a religious congregation (sister, brother, priest)
- an ordained minister i.e. a priest or a deacon
Qualities needed in a potential priest
The NZ Catholic Bishops Conference have stated in their booklet entitled ‘Programme for Priestly Formation for Aotearoa-New Zealand (s168): “At all stages of seminary formation, the applicant must give evidence of an overall personality balance, moral character, and proper motivation. This includes the requisite human, moral, spiritual, intellectual, physical, and psychological qualities for priestly ministry.”
When a man enters the seminary he engages in a process of self-discernment, under the guidance of the appointed staff, as to what God is calling him to do with his life and the particular form of discipleship he was born for. Overall, by the end of the normal six-and-a-half year programme of study and formation for priesthood, an applicant would be expected to:
- Be of sound physical and mental health;
- Have good communication skills and ability to relate well to others;
- Be well-grounded in the scriptures, teachings and practices of the Catholic faith;
- Exhibit academic proficiency;
- Have a well-established regular prayer life;
- Have a stable, well-managed personal life,
- Have a deep care for the well-being of others;
- Have a firm sense that God is calling him to a life of service as a priest, for the salvation of souls and the common good of people.
Who can help me?
To make a good decision, we need to enlist God’s help and especially open ourselves to the guidance of God’s Spirit. The best course of action is to be in touch with a diocesan priest in your area. In the Archdiocese of Wellington we have a Vocations Director who would be happy to meet with you. Contact Fr David Dowling.
Knowing my vocation
We get to know people by spending time with them. It is the same with God. By making space for God in our lives and listening for God’s voice speaking through experiences which touch us deeply inside as well as outside ourselves, it is possible to start a conversation with God.
Through prayer, the scriptures, the sacraments, the advice of significant people and the acts of service we do for others, we can meet Jesus Christ. We can become conscious of God’s Spirit moving in our lives and start to be clearer about what is right for us in answering God’s call, even if we experience some moments of confusion and challenge. Reaching a sense of peace and joy is usually a sign of reassurance.
Read how some of our local priests found their vocation to the priesthood and responded to God’s call.