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The Call of God


First, a word from our ACC Planning Council: thanks for your input and patience as we work to improve the shared bulletin.

Please check out all the pages as some joint news and events may not appear in the specific parish sections.

Perhaps you too learned German from Sister Charlene Kabarle, OSB, at Cathedral High School. She taught there for over thirty years, and that came after 14 years in elementary schools, where she was also one of my mother’s teachers in Sauk Rapids. Hearing God’s call, she entered the monastery at 23 and lived until her death at age 98 according to the Rule of Benedict and the motto of the order: Ora et labora – to pray and to work. In my experience, she did both with unwavering dedication, settled purpose, and serene conviction.

I mention Sister Charlene because in a Christmas card she sent after I had graduated she asked: “With the gifts God has given you, have you ever considered priesthood?” That was it – no pressure, no flattery, no challenge, just the question. I had not considered it. But after that card, I certainly did.

My parents created a home where faith and religious practice was simply what we did. The Rosary in May and October, small statues of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a crucifix and the Last Supper. We went to Sunday morning Mass and to Catholic school. It was not done to be countercultural or react to anything; it was simply a Catholic home, built around God Who was loved and honored.

But for me – as often for many – it was the question from someone else, someone I respected as a person of faith and influence, that was the tipping point. I realized that the faith we enjoyed was sustained by the labor and sacrifices of many people.

The rotation of celebrants in our One In Christ ACC brings home not only the great generosity and experience of our retired priests, but also the need for more priests to serve our diocese and the Church. We have been talking about the declining number of priests for over 30 years; we are now well into the reality of familiar routines of sacraments and schedules that are increasingly stressed for every parish, and we are not at the bottom of that curve yet. Yet the decline in priestly numbers has been accompanied by a growth in the involvement in laypersons, out of the understanding that each person in the Church is called, and has a role to play in its work. The dedication and sacrifices of lay people are essential – not as a “substitute” of some sort because priests and religious are less common, but as a proper response to their own vocation as baptized members of the Body of Christ. We are seeing a decline in these numbers as well, and that too adds stresses to celebrating our Catholic life with vigor and joy.

The first and highest call for each of us is to holiness. But that is made specific in each of our lives by a particular vocation. Most are called to marriage and family life, building the “domestic Church” in their homes and nurturing their children in both human and divine growth, mirroring the covenantal love of God in their communion of love with one another. Some are called to the single life, to remain unmarried in order to be at the service of the human family more broadly. Others are called to religious life, to profess the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience in imitation of Christ, dedicating themselves to works of service in the Church and giving witness to the communion of love in heaven to which all are called. Finally, some are called to Holy Orders as deacons and priests and bishops.

Please persevere in prayer for all vocations, and especially for priests to serve the needs of the faithful.

Pray for whomever God chooses as the next Bishop of St. Cloud; perhaps we will have news on that after Christmas? Pray for the younger priests as well; they will be living with these changing demands for many years. And, like Sister Charlene, ask the question of those you see whom the Spirit may be calling. Perhaps like me, it was not on that person’s mind; but it will be once you ask.

Thanks, Sister Charlene, for raising the question. May we listen in prayer and reflection for Christ’s call, and respond daily with generous hearts.

Fr. Tom

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