As we in the Diocese of Brooklyn celebrate the Year of Vocations, praying to the Lord of the Harvest that He will call many more young men to the vocation of priesthood in the Church and many more young women to the vocation of Consecrated Life in the Church, we turn our attention to the saints and beg their intercession. One such saint is Thomas Aquinas.
Thomas, born the son of a noble family, was the youngest son in the family, and, as such, was expected to join religious life, as was the custom of his day. At the age of five, he was sent for his education in the Benedictine Abbey at Monte Cassino in Italy and was thought to be destined to be the Abbot of the monastery. At 14,Thomas was sent for what was the finest of education in Naples, but a new movement in the Church caught his attention – the “Domini Cani,” the “Dogs of the Lord,” the newly established Order of Preachers, the Dominicans, founded by Saint Dominic Guzman. This was considered to be a radical form of religious life, friars ready to defend the faith, through preaching, teaching, and way of life, whenever and wherever the Church needed them.
It was far from the form of religious life that young Thomas’ family thought best for him. They were fine if he was called to Benedictine life, where he would live in one monastery and be able to available to them whenever they want. They just could not accept the fact that the young man wanted to join so radical a way of religious life.
As the story goes, Thomas’ family locked him in a tower, until he would give up this crazy idea of being a Dominican. But he not only refused to give up his vocation, he actually convinced his family of his vocation and helped his sister discern a vocation to religious life.
Families are an essential part of the process of discerning a religious vocation. How much do families today know about priesthood and religious life? We are blessed in the Diocese to have resources available to all through the work of our Vocation Office.
Do we trust in the discernment and the formation that our son or daughter is getting in his or her formation to the priesthood or religious life? If the call is felt by our family member, as members of the Body of Christ, the Church, we need at least to support them. Learning about vocations is key for every family.
Please use the resources the Diocese has to offer to bring perhaps the next Thomas Aquinas to the world.