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!
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?
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
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.
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.