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GUEST COLUMNIST | Prayer is key to discerning vocation

Growing up I wanted to be an architect. I would design and construct small cities with my Legos; one year my stadium hosted the Superbowl!

Then I wanted to be a storm chaser. Approaching squall lines and rotating clouds would mesmerize me. I would explain to my panicked sister how the storms were coming straight for our house.

But then at an all-school Mass, the priest asked if we had ever thought about who God wanted us to be. I had never figured God had a plan for me; did He want me to chase tornadoes with Helen Hunt like in Twister?

Our priest asked if we would pray about becoming priests and sisters, so I did. I also noticed something about our priests: I saw Father Joe Kempf roller blading through school, teaching us about joy. I witnessed Msgr. Jerome Buchheit and Msgr. Thomas Dempsey build and shepherd our parish community. I heard my dad speak of Father Michael Boehm’s guidance during his months of unemployment; I learned from Father Tim Bannes how to pray — and how to properly pour syrup on pancakes.

As I watched these humble, talented St. Louisans serve the people, a little thought came into my head: maybe God wants me to be a priest. Maybe I could be happy!

I’ve been a priest for seven years and I’m blessed to say I’ve found the same joy my parish priests modeled for me. I’m now the vocation director for the Archdiocese. Our mission is to help people discover who God is calling them to be, to help them find fulfillment from the Lord in service of others. It can be really hard to do discover God’s call, so our programs for youth and young adults assist them in hearing the Lord’s voice. You could say we help them piece together a relationship with God unique to them, their own Lego stadium.

We also help more serious young disciples with the process of discernment, knowing God’s voice and His will. In the storms of life, it can be hard to notice the right path or direction. We chase after storms with them and help them find safety in the Lord’s plan.

In helping people discover God’s will, it’s important to invite people to discern priesthood and religious life, like Father Joe did for us. It’s important to encourage people to pursue happy, faith-filled marriages, too, as it’s difficult to pursue such relationships. The greatest way we can do this is by inviting people to first grow our relationship with Jesus, become His disciple, then listen and respond to the particular way the Lord wants us to serve. You’re included in this, as a part of your call to holiness: help other people discover their call by your encouragement and example!

November 3-9 is Vocation Awareness Week. I invite you to fast, pray and help foster vocations in your parish. Who knows? Maybe the Lord will use your example to inspire like He used those kind priests to help me.

Father Brian Fallon is vocation director for the Archdiocese of St. Louis and pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Crestwood.

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