By Father Robert Mema
Many perhaps would agree that a vocation should bring forth from the very interior of a person: joy, excitement, growth, and dare I say it, even challenges.
When I began to discern my vocation to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ I was in high school, working and in the midst of researching and visiting prospective colleges. I went on to study criminal justice and law at the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. While in college, I felt my call to the priesthood grow deeper. What I felt was hard to describe because it was a conglomerate of emotions.
In other words, I felt at peace, excited and joyful, but also nervous and afraid.
Spiritual Direction Is Vital
I would constantly bring up the emotions and questions that I had with my spiritual director. Choosing a spiritual director was vital to my discernment process. My spiritual director was able to direct me in clarifying, understanding and even challenging me to reflect and pray about what God the Father was calling me to do.
After graduating from college and working as a personal banker for nearly two years, I arrived at a point in my life that I realized I really wanted to be a priest. The emotions and discernment would not stop – a sign from God that this is His will for me.
Once I came to the decision to apply to the seminary, I felt nothing but peace and joy.
Entering the seminary and continuing to discern my vocation, I realized that discernment never ends because we are continually being formed in His image and likeness. This brought about new challenges, including facing the fact that I was no longer living at home, and the absence of my family, social life, work, etc. But by facing these challenges I was finally able to find myself. I was able to push through the difficult situations and the challenges, and dedicate myself to this amazing vocation to which I said YES!
Now ordained for one year, I have had the amazing privilege of ministering to God’s people at the parish of St. Kevin in Flushing. Ministry has truly brought me joy because the People of God are truly amazing, and the priests that I live with continue to help form me, are interested in my growth and the camaraderie is truly heartwarming.
Strength in Weakness
Besides my parish family, my family and friends continue to walk this journey with me even when trying times arise. I am always assured, through my friends and family, that in times of doubt and weakness, we are never to despair because it is in our weakness that God makes us strong!
Just as any discernment is difficult, whether it be a vocation within the Church or a vocation in the business sector, always remember that God is there to direct you! He is guiding you and leading you, just as He led me, to a place of peace and joy!
Find yourself a spiritual director so that he/she can direct and guide you, and also maintain your relationships with your friends and family.
Finally, believe that if you have availed yourself to the will of the Father, He will lead you to the vocation that will bring you peace and joy!