The Church celebrates National Vocation Awareness Week this year from November 5-11. According to the USCCB, it is “an annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations.” In order to learn more about vocations and discernment, the Catholic Apostolate Center reached out to men currently in formation and asked them the following three questions: What were you doing before formation? What are you doing now? And what has this transition been like? Below are their answers about the transition from the collegiate atmosphere into formation for the priesthood and/or Consecrated life.
What were you doing before formation?
Before entering formation in the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, I was a full-time graduate student at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. I completed my doctorate in history, specializing in the religious and medical history of modern France. I was used to a fairly independent and loosely structured life. I owned my own home, studied and taught at the university, and was actively involved in my local community through civic and fraternal organizations. My life was dominated by an irregular schedule, where any time of the day was a good time to research and write my dissertation!
What are you doing now?
Currently I am in the second year of my novitiate, which is traditionally called the “scholastic” year because members of my community use this year to pursue any remaining college studies before entering a theology program. Luckily, my educational background afforded me the special opportunity to spend this year immersed in ministry at Bishop Eustace Preparatory School, a school owned by the Pallottines. I work a full day in the Christian Ministry Office, helping students develop their service projects and accompanying them on service retreats and projects at local charities and schools. I also substitute teach wherever I might be needed. Currently, I am filling in for a teacher on maternity leave. I teach a full course load of U.S. History, Government, and Criminal Justice classes. Twice a week I also take night courses to learn Italian, which is one of the two official languages of my community, and three nights a week I study selected topics in Pallottine life. In my spare time, when I am not grading papers or preparing lectures, I am working on a new edition of a biography of our founder, St. Vincent Pallotti, and a translation of our history from an Italian original. My day begins and ends with the Eucharist and is anchored by the Liturgy of the Hours, which is a source of strength and mission for me each day.
What has this transition been like?
As you can see above, I do not lack things to do! It was certainly an adjustment moving from the uncertain schedule of graduate student life to the precise one of a religious novice. It has been a time of growing closer to Jesus Christ and seeing how He acts in my life and sets a special vocational path in front of me. The transition has been one of growing closer to Christ as Apostle of the Eternal Father, learning the unique spirituality of Pallottine life, and how to apply this charism to my own physical, spiritual, intellectual, and apostolic development. Further, the deep sense of companionship and accompaniment by Brother Jim, my Director of Preparatory Formation, has inspired me to enkindle the flame of our charism within my own life. I am able to apply all my skills and talents in academia to my life as a Pallottine novice, and each day I am surprised by the new and creative ways I discover to make our charism alive to others.
To learn more about Vocational Discernment, please visit our Vocational Discernment Resource Page.