When a person begins thinking about following Jesus Christ as a priest, religious sister, or consecrated layperson, there are many different reactions from family and friends. Sometimes people are very supportive; other times, people react very strongly against the idea. Usually, it is a mix of the two.
The religious life is a mystery to many people. If a person simply sees the Catholic Church as a large organization, made up of rules and regulations, they may not be especially receptive to the idea that their friend or loved one wishes to dedicate their life to the service of a bureaucracy. Even life-long Catholics who love the Church may think that the religious life is wonderful — but it isn’t for my son or daughter, not for my nephew, niece, or friend.
What we all must remember is that the Church is not simply a human organization. To follow a vocation into the religious life is to follow Jesus Christ. Following a religious call in the Church is not the same as taking a job in a multi-national non-profit organization. It is Jesus Christ who calls us to his service and to attend to the needs of our brothers and sisters.
It is important that we all pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It is equally important that we support our loved ones and friends if they tell us that they are thinking about answering the call of Jesus Christ. We all have a part to play in encouraging and nurturing vocations in the Church.
For someone to share that they are thinking about entering the religious life is a huge step. It is not easy to follow the call of Jesus Christ in the world. However, each of us can encourage and assist those closest to us to hear and follow the call of Jesus Christ. In the way we talk about the Church, priests, religious sisters, and consecrated laypersons, we say volumes about whether or not we support vocations.
Let us remember that vocations come from somewhere. Let us pray that God will increase vocations to the Diocese of Fort Worth and we may all play our part in supporting and encouraging them.