Friday, August 23, 2013

Fr. Mitch Pacwa discusses Vocations Placement website with Natalie Smith

I don't always get to watch EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, but he is among my favorites.  He always has interesting guests on his Wednesday evening show at 8:00 PM ET.  The shows are archived and if you have a YouTube account, you can subscribe and watch most of the prime time programs, and then some, online after they air.  This 1 hour segment aired two days ago.

In this show, Fr. Mitch interviews Natalie Smith about her website,  This is the first I've seen of it and it looks like an interesting site, but I only clicked around in the minute or so that I had. I'll go back there at some point and look some more.   It's best to watch the interview.

One thing I liked was how Natalie Smith emphasizes that marriage is a vocation and young people need help discerning the full package.  I understand what she is saying.  People will sometimes pursue a religious vocation when they are really called to marriage, and vice versa. And, marriage is a vocation. Fr. Mitch makes sure, near the end, that people understand it's not a sin to not follow a presumed call.

When listening to this discussion consider that there are two kinds of parishes in which young people reside: A) Vocationally Fertile and B) Vocationally Sterile (don't confuse this with fertile as in families upholding Humanae Vitae, though this is an important factor).  In a vocationally fertile parish you see someone heading off to seminary or religious community almost yearly. This is visible to young people who then have the greatest "advertisement" right in front of them, causing them to reflect and ponder whether they too are called.   In a vocationally sterile parish, you can look back decades and not find a single vocation - one that followed through and stayed.  This also means there are no examples to follow - at least ones that are close in age.  In a vocationally fertile parish, it's obvious that the parish environment is friendly to the actions of the Holy Spirit.  I don't believe God has called so few men and women to the priesthood and consecrated life in these decades of decline; people just haven't been able to hear the call from God over all the noise in the culture and even in their parishes.  The key is to remove the "noise." This whole issue is the subject of more posts as I have many thoughts on what makes a parish vocationally fertile and vocationally sterile.  I need to get more wonky than I have here to detail it out, but this is not the post for that.

I mention this issue because as I listened to this episode, I thought the website was a great concept in general (without having looked it over fully yet). It might be most helpful to the discerning soul who comes from a vocationally sterile parish (or diocese - and yes, some dioceses have a higher vocational fertility rate just as parishes do!). At the same time, a site like this might help someone in a vocationally fertile parish who may not be called to the same charism that others before him or her were.  Communities have been blossoming for the past 15 years and they are varied.  Men wanting a diocesan vocation, as was pointed out in the interview, must go to their own diocese, with few exceptions.  I suppose one could move to another diocese for a while then apply, but there is no guarantee that a bishop with the same qualities and personality of a current bishop will replace him when he retires or gets moved. So, sometimes that works out, and some times it does not.

I'm aware of another great discernment tool out there and will talk about this in another post.

Without further delay, here is the video.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
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