Discovering Your Vocation

Brother David Henley, vocation directorMay 2015

When people are faced with starting tasks that they have never done before or for which they have no instructions on how to begin, they sometimes simply give up.

For some, the process of discovering their vocations may seem like such a task, and the seeming enormity of this task may cause them to abandon their search before they even begin. The fear of the unknown causes them to give up or settle for less, not knowing that just beyond the horizon may be true happiness.

Even though, in one sense, the vocation search never ends, it is not too big to begin at any time. And the instruction is easy: take it to prayer.

Glenmary’s own Brother Joe Steen offers a simple, excellent plan for finding one’s vocation: “You have to find out where God wants you to be and then go there, and that’s where you’ll be happy.” I think that approaching the discernment process in this way can help discerners to persevere and not give up.

An individual’s vocation journey will ultimately lead him to a place where he is most happy. He will discover his true self, see how his unique talents can be used to serve others, and find a community of people who share his vision.

Discernment means accepting the challenge to grow and develop a deeper relationship with God. By doing so, the discerner continues to discover new ways that he is called by God, and in this way the journey does not end.

After taking it to prayer, he continues the discernment journey and discovers he is not alone. Like other religious communities, Glenmary offers Come & See retreats. During these experiences, men who are discerning their call with Glenmary not only get to visit the missions, but also to spend time with other discerners.

Another feature of a Come & See retreat is meeting religious who are open and honest about sharing their own vocation stories and how they discerned where God was calling them. A few Glenmary priests who have shared their vocation story on camera can be watched on my YouTube channel. These three videos of Glenmary’s Father Vic Subb, Father Don Tranel and Father John Rausch are highlights from my conversations with them about their own discernment process. In these clips, they share some of their struggles as well as the joys they have found.

As you watch these videos and listen to their stories, reflect on your own story. Let this viewing and reflection be the first step in your process. The questions to ask yourself could include the following:

• Were their discernment journeys in any ways similar to your own?
• What have been the joys and obstacles you have encountered during your discernment?
• What did they share that appealed to you?  

Pray about it and be open to listening to God’s response. Feel free to contact us if you have more questions about Glenmary or if you feel that God is calling you to explore religious life on a Come & See retreat. Don’t give up, but trust in our loving God that you will find where God wants you to be.

Read previous columns by Brother David.