Coordinator of Redemptorist Vocation Ministry
From November 12-14, 2010, 9 young men gathered together to discern their call as Redemptorist Priests and Brothers. For some of them, this was their first experience of formally asking the bigger questions of what discernment might mean for them. For others, they have been searching and discerning already, and felt drawn to come and “check us Redemptorists out”. For all of them, it was a genuine opportunity to set some time aside and allow themselves the experience the grace of God touching their hearts and calling them to service through this special vocation in the Church.
As Redemptorists in Canada, we continue our mission handed on by our Founder, St. Alphonsus Liguori C.Ss.R. who sought to mission in the work of evangelization among the most abandoned, especially among the poor. Having been a person of the 18th century Italy, St. Alphonsus was certainly familiar and sensitive to the needs of the people of his time, their hardships and challenges, especially in the common understanding among the people that God was not really a nice person! For the people of the day, God was a vengeful God, always seeking to catch us up in our sinfulness and ready to punish us at any moment. Is it a wonder where we get our “Catholic Guilt”? But Alphonsus sought to free the people and the Church of his day from this Jansenistic approach to the person and God, and invited people to experience God in a new way – through love, through a relationship that was built on compassion, mercy and tenderness, and not on a conversion out of fear. St. Alphonsus believed that conversions out of fear would never last, but conversions out of love would last. This is very much our experience with one another. Why would it be any different in our relationship with God.
Today, our mission in Canada is still built on the proclamation of the Good News of Plentiful Redemption, this abundant love of God, to people that have never heard the Good News before, among those who need to hear it again as if for the first time, or among those for whom the Good News is not “Good News”. These categories take on many faces in the people we serve each and every day. It can be as varied as the experience of Jesus as he went about from house to house, from town to town, meeting people in need as he went along. So through parish ministry, mission preaching, Pub Nights, bioethics, social justice ministry, innercity ministry and the like, we as Redemptorists continue to stand on the shoulders of those gone before us drawing us to the heart of St. Alphonsus in his love for the abandoned.
As we journey with young men who are discerning this call, it is this sense of compassion and “mind” of Jesus that we seek to foster and identify in each and very young man who comes to us asking the bigger questions of life, their faith, their relationship God, and what might be doing about some of the tough questions we see faced in our world and within our Church.
I give thanks to God for the 9 young men who continue to ask the big questions of what God is speaking to them in the silence of their hearts and invite you to look into your own heart to see if making a discernment retreat weekend might be something God is inviting you to consider.
There will be two retreats taking place in the winter in both Saskatoon and Toronto.
Won’t you consider picking up your cross and follow? Perhaps Jesus the Redeemer is inviting you to evangelize and to be evangelized through the gift of your vocation.
Links to our Vocation Ministry: