There are several moments in Scripture in which Jesus calls on His disciples to leave behind their possessions to follow Him.
In Jesus’ calling of the first disciples by the sea of Galilee, He promised to make them “fishers of men” (Mark 1:16-20).
These examples continue to happen in the modern day, through our individual vocational callings. Two men who have spent several decades serving Christ’s Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis as permanent deacons are listening to a new calling that God has placed upon their hearts later in life.
As highlighted in this week’s edition, Deacons Allen Boedeker and Gene Schaeffer have entered the seminary, this time on the path toward priesthood. Through some personal life changes in recent years, the two have discovered an open doorway in which they sense that God is calling them to to be His priests.
Deacon Schaeffer has left a long career in corporate America, while Deacon Boedeker recently retired after 30 years as a theology teacher. Their now-grown children have been supportive of their decision. Both of them spoke about the seeds planted earlier in their lives through which they felt a calling to ordained ministry. Becoming priests now, they said, would allow them to bring more of the sacraments to God’s people.
Their examples show that vocational discernment continues throughout life.
“I truly believe that there are probably a lot of guys out there like us,” Deacon Schaeffer said. “Maybe they were younger vocations, and in our human nature, we said ‘no.’ But our life situations have changed, and now we’re in a position to say ‘yes.’”
In his message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations in 2020, Pope Francis said that “taking the right course is not something we do on our own, nor does it depend solely on the road we choose to travel. How we find fulfillment in life is more than a decision we make as isolated individuals; above all else, it is a response to a call from on high.
“The Lord points out our destination on the opposite shore and He grants us the courage to board the boat. In calling us, He becomes our helmsman; He accompanies and guides us; He prevents us from running aground on the shoals of indecision and even enables us to walk on surging waters.
“Every vocation is born of that gaze of love with which the Lord came to meet us,” Pope Francis said.
God has a plan and a pathway for each of us. Sometimes we hear that calling solidified early in life; and for some, like Deacons Boedeker and Schaeffer, through their service as deacons, have come to see that God is calling them once again to a new vocation. It’s proof positive that we should never stop listening to the Lord and to be open to taking the next step in our vocational calling.