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God’s love is at the heart of discerning for vocation

 112020Seminarians talk vocations

Members of the Gary Diocese's vocation's team Father David Kime (top, left), Father Chris Stanish (top, center), and Father Nate Edquist (bottom, right) lead a virtual Zoom session in which seminarians from the diocese talk to young men about discernment and life as a seminarian. Seminarians taking part in the Oct. 22 discussion were: Nicholas Emsing, Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary; Steven Caraher, Sacred Heart Seminary; Robert Ross, St. Francis de Sales Seminary; and Nathan Herr, Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary. (Bob Wellinski photo)



NWIC correspondent 


      “When it comes to a vocation, no matter what vocation it is, it’s all about love. Love is all about making a gift of yourself,” said Father Chris Stanish as he spoke to a group of teens about discernment and religious vocations on Oct. 22.

      “God didn’t make us for ourselves to turn inwards, to hide, isolate or withdraw. God made us to pour ourselves out in love and in service to other people,” he continued.

      He explained that the way to understand God’s call is “through the Christian lens of a true understanding of love. When we give of ourselves, we come to know who we are, and that’s when we come to the greatest joy and happiness that we can possibly have in this world.”

      Father Stanish, pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Student Center also diocesan associate director of vocations, spoke on discernment and vocations during a recent Zoom session with teens from across the diocese who expressed an interest in a vocation. He was joined by Father Dave Kime, director of vocations and pastor of St. Francis Xavier in Lake Station, and Father Nate Edquist, associate pastor of the LaPorte Catholic Community.

      Seminarians from the diocese also spoke as they shared life as a seminarian, their discernment, and offered words of wisdom. Seminarians taking part in the discussion were: Nicholas Emsing, Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary; Steven Caraher, Sacred Heart Seminary; Robert Ross, St. Francis de Sales Seminary; and Nathan Herr, Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary.

      Father Stanish explained, “too often we focus on, ‘What do I want to do?’ or ‘How do I imagine my life?’ Ultimately, it involves asking God, ‘What is it you desire for me to do in this life?’ He suggested that they ask the one life-changing question, ‘God, what do you want?’”

      He added, “God’s choice for you is what makes a vocation different from a job or occupation. We can choose a career for ourselves, but a vocation is his choice. He chooses for us and invites us to respond. He doesn’t force it on us, but asks us to o embrace it.”

      The priests and seminarians all stressed that a strong prayer life is vital. “Through prayer, the Lord will tell you what he desires for you,” said Father Stanish.

       Caraher shared his thoughts. “A good and consistent prayer life is a must, and not necessarily waiting for that St. Paul moment. God usually works in a more subtle way,” he said.

      Emsing echoed his fellow seminarian’s thoughts. “God communicates with your heart -- a subtle call,” he said, noting that God can also communicate through other people. “Sometimes other people might see you are a man of God. That helped me decide to try the seminary, because people told me I’d be a great priest.” 

      He explained at first it sounded like a nice compliment, “but then you realize, ‘What are people seeing in me?’  He recalled a time when, while taking part in prison ministry, an inmate told him he could see that Emsing was a man of God.

     All four seminarians agree that life in the seminary is life changing. While some entered right out of high school, others entered after college, but they agree there is a special life-long bond formed among seminarians.

      Herr said building fraternity has meant the most to him. “You’ll never find a better group of Catholic men so close that you call them brothers. That’s how tight are the bonds we form,” said Herr.

      The seminarians stressed that the fear of discernment should not keep a man from trying seminary. “You’re not signing your name on the dotted line to become a priest,” one noted. They explained that seminary is a place where a young man of faith “learns to know who God is and learns how to follow him better,” especially in pre-theology and college levels.

      Several also added that the seminary is a great opportunity to find out where God is calling a man to, whether as a priest, consecrated life, marriage, or single life.

      “God has called you to be in the seminary for a while to discern. Whether it is to serve as a priest, married, religious person or single life, that’s what a vocation is -- where God wants you to serve him best,” said Ross.

      The seminarians stressed not to buy into the lie that a person is a failure if they discern out of seminary. Ross stated, “It makes you a better man of God. I know a man who discerned and eventually married. He’s going to be a better husband and father because of seminary. It really formed him.”

      “It’s been an absolute adventure. It’s not an easy thing, but it’s not impossible. It’s a beautiful experience to walk with like-minded, good Catholic men,” said Caraher.

      Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes have been made to two events usually organized by the Office of Vocations.

      The Andrew Dinner will become the Andrew Mass this year, live streamed on Nov. 30 from Nativity of Our Savior in Portage. Priests will be allowed to invite any young man who may be considering a religious vocation, while other interested supporters can watch from home.

      The annual Black Tie White Collar Gala will be held virtually in February, 2021, with details expected soon.

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