The Second Vatican Council sought to bring about at all levels of the Church a profound renewal of faith which would provide all men and women, especially Catholics, with new hope and loving spirit of service in response to the needs of contemporary society. The first requirement for renewal is that each individual baptized person becomes aware that God, through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, is calling him or her to make a personal commitment to follow Jesus on a pilgrimage of faith in fulfillment of the will of the Father and his plan for mankind. “God has called [each individual man and woman] to cleave with all their being to him in sharing forever a life that is divine… The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God,” Pope Paul VI called this the new work of Evangelization. Pope John Paul II tells us that this new evangelization requires a new generation of saints.
Pastoral work for the renewal of vocations to church ministry (priesthood, and consecrated life) must always come back to the need of fostering among everyone a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a personal commitment to living according to his truth.
The priest is a man of faith and prayer who has responded to God’s call to bring the people to God and God to the people. He is a man rooted in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our faith. He is an extension of the local bishop; living a life of service, celibacy, and obedience to their bishop. Priests are called to proclaim and celebrate the Good News among God’s people.
Most men ordained for the Diocese of Sioux Falls serve in parishes of the diocese. They are an active and loving presence of Christ among the people, sharing their faith and participating in the struggles of the people they are serving. Some priests serve as teachers and chaplains in schools, while others serve in various diocesan institutions. Wherever they serve, priests work in bringing peace, love and justice to those around them.
Men who are interested in studying for the priesthood in the Diocese of Sioux Falls would attend one of the seminaries that the diocese utilizes in the formation and education of its priests. By the time he is ordained, a priest has completed a bachelor and a masters degree, usually in philosophy and theology. At the end of the third year of theology, the seminarian is ordained to the diaconate; at the close of the fourth year, he is ordained to the priesthood.
A permanent deacon is a man, married or single, 35 years of age or older, who is ordained to the Sacrament of Holy Orders to serve in the ministries of the Sacrament, Word and Service. He serves as an official representative of the Church and, aided by the sacramental grace of Holy Orders, is a witness to all the world of Christ Himself who “came not to be served, but to serve.” The permanent deacon is sensitive to the many needs of men and women of Christ’s Church and boldly faces up to the challenges of meeting those needs. Deacons, for the most part, are married men who support their families by holding regular jobs. They contribute several hours a week to their ministry and usually receive no monetary compensation.
Deacons preach at Mass, baptize, witness marriages, teach, participate in ministry to the sick, aged, youth, imprisoned, minority communities, and many other areas of ministry. Justice and advocacy for the poor are the main purpose of the deacon ministry.
The permanent deacon must be a man of deep faith. He must be willing to commit a considerable amount of time to study in preparation and be willing to spend many hours of his life in service to people who are troubled, lonely and powerless. If he is married, his wife and family must be willing to support his ministry.
Consecrated Religious Life
Whether brother or sister, monk or nun, those persons whom God calls to live the vocation of consecrated religious life respond to a call of living the life of Christ. While their expression of this life may differ depending upon gender, community, charism, and apostolic work, in essence they have been called to give their life to Christ in service to his Church. No one job or career defines the life or work of the man or woman who discerns this vocation. More aptly, the defining character is the witness of joy and holiness they gain through Christ’s love. The religious brother’s commitment is one sign and living proof that Christ is still among us as the One who is Brother to us all. In his life of celibacy, poverty, and obedience the brother challenges us to be responsible with our use of power, love, and material goods.
Sharing in the intimate life of Christ as bride to the bridegroom, the sister is a sign to the world that God is love. In consecrating her life to Christ, she lives vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She has given her life entirely to the Lord so that he may draw her deeper into a love relationship.
Often times, brothers and sisters live in community. Together they draw strength and support for their life of sacrifice and service. They are bound together by a deep desire to live as Christ, thus witnessing to the world that the Lord is present. While each community models themselves after a particular spiritual leader, charism, and service to the church, all communities seek to give a face to the person of Christ in the modern world.
The vocation that most people discern is the sacramental union of marriage. In this sacrament, man and woman commit themselves to each other and to God until death parts them. Their two lives become one and in essence reflect both the image of the trinity and the church. During the wedding ceremony, they seek the Church’s blessing upon their love for each other and publicly seal their promise to live together in intimacy, love, and faithfulness.
The embodiment of the married couple’s love is a child; the fruit of their physical and spiritual unity. A child is God’s gift and blessing to the marriage. It should be cherished and welcomed into a loving environment. Sometimes, although they desire children, couples are unable to have children. This does not mean that God does not bless them or that they weren’t listening correctly in their discernment of their vocation. God might be calling them to be a witness to the vocation in other ways.
Managing a household; guiding, educating, and providing for their children; and meeting their own spiritual, intellectual, and social needs calls forth the very best in each couple. A deep faith in God’s love for them is the foundation of a married couples’ life. Their faith is expressed through prayer, devotion, and service to their family, church, and community. Faith gives them greater wisdom, patience, and hope when the inevitable struggles occur and more intense joy when they celebrate the blessings that God has given them.
Universal Call to Holiness-Generous Single Life
The beauty and burden of the vocation of the single person is often overlooked in today’s world. The single vocation can have a spiritual dimension, just as all other vocations do. While it is sometimes said to be the hardest vocation to accept, it is definitely not meant to be a life of loneliness and solitude.
Most of us exist, to a certain degree, within this vocation for some transitional amount of time, prior to our discernment and entrance into other vocations. It is an opportunity and a freedom to give themselves completely in service to others. Singleness as a vocation is not an end in itself, but is directed in self-giving and life-giving generosity and activity.
The single person has no bond of commitment to a community of persons like other vocations do. Thus, there is not a built-in support system for them. Living this call thus presents an opportunity to nurture a strong relationship with God. The solitude of being single can be a blessing that allows the individual to discover the incompleteness of life without God being