Almost a year and a half into his priesthood, Father Eddie Godefroid has found much joy in doing all the things: celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, walking with the people of God in their faith journey and more.
In discerning his vocation, the former golf industry professional said prayer led him to answering God’s call. As a youth, he served at Mass. Priests he knew occasionally mentioned the priesthood to him. It wasn’t until he was a young adult that he noticed the holiness and joy of several young priests he got to know at Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta, where he was living at the time.
“Seeing them and the joy they had sparked something in me to ask the question: ‘Is God calling me?’” he said. Father Godefroid had a full-time job and was generally satisfied with his life. But he felt there was something more to which God was calling him.
Being open to God’s will is key in figuring out what our life’s vocation is, said Father Godefroid, associate pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in St. Charles. “So often we think there’s a lot of hardships, but He gives us the grace to live lives according to His will. God provides the grace. He just does.”
National Vocation Awareness Week, celebrated November 6-12, is an annual weeklong celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering a vocation.
A decline in the priesthood has been a major point of discussion in the All Things New strategic planning effort. The greatest thing that can be done to counter a vocations crisis is to recognize that every human being has a vocation, said Father Brian Fallon, vocations director for the Archdiocese of St. Louis and pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in St. Louis.
“Each and every one of us is called to holiness,” Father Fallon said. In Matthew 28, Jesus gave us the great commissioning to go and make disciples of all nations. The role of encouraging vocations falls to every one of us, and that is at the heart of All Things New, he said.
“An even greater difficulty we have is a people shortage,” Father Fallon said. “We don’t have people who are recognizing their call to discipleship.”
Where do vocations come from? It starts with families, who are continually learning to love the Lord and be His disciples. In living that kind of lifestyle, parents are able to encourage a younger generation to fall in love with Jesus themselves.
Father Fallon’s own vocation story begins with his parents, who encouraged their children to think about their own vocations. As a student at Holy Infant School in Ballwin, Father Fallon remembers hearing an invitation from then-associate pastor Father Joe Kempf at an all-school Mass.
“He invited us to think about being priests and religious sisters,” Father Fallon recalled. “By the sixth grade I thought, this is something that maybe God is calling me to do.” Father Michael Boehm told Father Fallon’s dad about Kenrick-Glennon Days, a summer camp that invites young men to learn more about seminary life. Other priests encouraged his discernment while in the seminary, including Msgr. Thomas Dempsey and the late Father Tim Bannes.
Father Fallon also credited the influence of former Holy Infant principal Sister Rosario Delaney and the Sisters of Mercy of Ireland who taught at the school. All of them, he said, listened to the prompting of the Lord as they encouraged young Brian in his vocation discernment.
God at the center
The sacraments and prayer were important parts of Elizabeth Buckley’s life growing up. The family attended St. Gerard Majella Parish in Kirkwood. Prayer before meals, praying the Rosary on road trips
and Sunday Mass were part of the family routine.
Starting college was a pivotal moment when as an adult, her faith became her own. As a student at Saint Louis University, she found opportunities to live her Catholic faith. While studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, she visited La Almudena Cathedral, and she began thinking about whether she was living her faith with intentionality.
“I made a promise to God to live a life with Him at the center,” she recalled.
In 2021, Buckley joined the Sisters of St. Francis of the Marytr St. George in Alton, Illinois. In August 2022, she entered the novitiate, receiving the habit and her religious name, Sister M. Gloria.
“I was very drawn to our charism to make the merciful love of Christ visible, especially through education and health care,” she said. The community of sisters, who have a presence in the Archdiocese of St. Louis at Mother of Good Counsel Home, also have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
What solidified her decision to answer God’s call to consecrated religious life was time before Him in eucharistic adoration. “The Eucharist and time with the Lord in front of the Blessed Sacrament is such a gift and so essential to discerning a vocation,” Sister M. Gloria said. For anyone who is discerning — maybe it’s a change in career, family life or even moving — taking that to the Lord is always the best option, she added.
“He knows us best and will show us where He wants us to go,” she said. “I am excited to continue to share the gift of the Eucharist with God’s people.”
As a religious sister, Sister M. Gloria said she has never felt more free and fulfilled as she does right now, because she is following God’s will for her life. “For anyone wondering what their vocation is, you need to ask, where do you feel the most like yourself and at peace?”
>> Prayer for vocations
Thank you for your countless blessings
Please send down Your Spirit
To stir up in our youth
A clear understanding of Your call.
Provide for us your bounty:
Religious sisters and brothers
And parish priests, shepherds after the Heart of Your Son
May we all hear your call
To receive Your love and share it with others.
May we be salt and light to the world, Lord God
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
>> Discerning a vocation?
Come and See retreats are for high school teens to learn what seminary life is like. The next one will take place Nov. 18-20 at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. To register, visit www.stlvocations.org/retreat. For more information, email Renae Novak at [email protected].
Love’s Reply is a discernment group for Catholic women, ages 18-30, in discovering God’s plan of love for your life. For more information and to register, email [email protected]. The program is free, but pre-registration is required.
To learn about other upcoming vocation discernment events, visit www.stlvocations.org/events. To learn more about discovering God’s plan for your life, visit the Office of Vocations website at www.stlvocations.org.
>> The art of invitation
Vocations director Father Brian Fallon said that the art of invitation is a key element in helping people to discern their life’s vocation. Every person has a vocation, something specific that God calls us to. Vocations may include priesthood, consecrated religious life, marriage and single life.
• Start with conversation: Think of someone with whom you have a good relationship, perhaps a friend or relative. In conversation, listen to what they have to say about their relationship with the Lord, Father Fallon said. Can they articulate what God is doing in their life? Offer a compliment, such as, “This is how I see the Lord working through you.” Then a question: “Have you considered how He might be calling you?”
• Do not be afraid: Thinking about that person with whom you have a relationship, don’t be afraid to be bold and tell them where you think God is working in their life, Father Fallon said. It could be something like, “Hey, I think you have these gifts, and the Lord might be inviting you. Maybe you should go on that retreat, or call the vocation director.”
• Discernment takes time: Spend time with God every day in prayer. Share your heart with Him. Learn that it’s OK to spend some of that time in silence. You will notice ways God is trying to love you. You don’t have to have a vocation figured out all at once. Every vocation takes time for proper discernment.
• Discerning vocations = evangelization: Vocation discernment should be in lock step with evangelization, Father Fallon said. “Through our own encounter with the Lord, we can’t help but talk about Jesus with others,” he said. “If we’re in love with the Lord, we want to help others to see how the Lord is calling them to share His love with others.”
A vocation is “the calling or destiny we have in this life and hereafter. God has created the human person to love and serve Him; the fulfillment of this vocation is eternal happiness. Christ calls the faithful to the perfection of holiness. The vocation of the laity consists in seeking the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will. Priestly and religious vocations are dedicated to the service of the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation.”
— Catechism of the Catholic Church