On this world day of prayer for Vocations during the year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis suggests that there are three key ways in which Joseph is a guide for our vocation:
The first word is the Dream. Everyone dreams of finding fulfilment in life. We rightly nurture great hopes, lofty aspirations that ephemeral goals – like success, money and entertainment – cannot satisfy. If we were to ask people to express in one word their life’s dream, it would not be difficult to imagine the answer: “to be loved”. It is love that gives meaning to life, because it reveals life’s mystery. Indeed, we only have life if we give it; we truly possess it only if we generously give it away. Saint Joseph has much to tell us in this regard, because, through the dreams that God inspired in him, he made of his life a gift.
The second word is Service. The Gospels show how Joseph lived entirely for others. The holy people of God invoke Joseph as the most chaste spouse, based on his ability to love unreservedly. By freeing love from all possessiveness, Joseph became open to an even more fruitful service. His loving care has spanned generations; his attentive guardianship has made him patron of the Church. As one who knew how to embody the meaning of self-giving in life, Joseph is also the patron of a happy death. His service and sacrifices were only possible, however, because they were sustained by a greater love: “Every true vocation is born of the gift of oneself.”
The third word is Fidelity. Joseph is the “righteous one” (Mt 1:19) who daily perseveres in quietly serving God and God’s plans. At a particularly difficult moment in his life, he thoughtfully considered what to do (cf. v. 20). He did not let himself be hastily pressured. He did not yield to the temptation to act rashly, simply following his instincts or living for the moment. Instead, he pondered things patiently. He knew that success in life is built on constant fidelity to important decisions. This was reflected in his perseverance in plying the trade of a humble carpenter (cf. Mt 13:55), a quiet perseverance that made no news in his own time, yet has inspired the daily lives of countless fathers, labourers and Christians ever since. For a vocation – like life itself – matures only through daily fidelity.
Let us pray that all will experience the joy of vocation in lofty dreams, in humble service and sincere fidelity to their vocation.
May God bless those who have generously made God the dream of their lives, serving God in their brothers and sisters through a fidelity that is a powerful testimony and a source of lasting joy.
May Saint Joseph, protector of vocations, accompany you on your journey!
Over the years, we have identified some skills and traits that are helpful to religious life. These include:
- strong self-esteem,
- effective communication skills,
- an ability to compromise,
- willingness to address conflict,
- tolerance of differences and imperfections,
- positive self-care,
- and a heart for forgiveness and gratitude.
These skills will stand a person in good stead in any walk of life, and they are particularly important to foster and strengthen community living that is at the heart of religious life. For all of us, personal growth is a lifetime project. Along with our efforts to grow in spirituality and in apostolic generosity, we also seek to grow as well-rounded, mature human beings. We seek to grow into all that God intended for us to be.
As you ponder your vocation, ask yourself if you have these skills and traits and if your desire growth in them. This may help you to understand your capacity to live in a community with others in religious life, or in any other community.
Alive in Oneness with Christ and all creation, the theme for Sister Sally Koch’s first vows was “We are Parts of the Whole” and indeed the community that gathered virtually and physically for Sally’s vows represented parts of the whole. She was surrounded by her Porter Ranch, California community and congregational delegate Sr. Kathy Stein. Family members and friends from the many organizations she has been a part of throughout her life and sisters who have been a part of her formation all gathered mostly virtually for a ceremony that called us to Love greater and wider in our world that is hurting.
Her ceremony on July 18 included readings from Colossians, Sue Monk Kidd, Joyce Rupp, and Nan C. Merrill. Kathleen Patrice “KP” Sullivan, CSJ gave the reflection followed by a bread breaking liturgical prayer.
read Sister KP’s reflection
Sally made the religious vows of chastity, the vow that calls us to honest self-expression and inclusive right relationships; poverty, the vow to hold all things lightly; and obedience, the vow of listening deeply according to the Constitution of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Sally has been deeply touched and grateful to everyone who has sent their love, affirmations, and support through all of the cards, greetings, and emails.
Catholic Sisters in communities around the world are reporting growing evidence of a rise in hunger and vulnerability to human trafficking – and they want to be part of an effective, coordinated response.
Sisters are uniquely placed to address the most pressing issues affecting people in poor communities due to the pandemic because they are already at the center of healthcare, education, and community development efforts worldwide.