Every career in life is important. From astronomy to zoology, there is something positive to be developed into a venture that yields a living wage. If what we do gives us contentment and happiness, it is necessary to commit ourselves to making that profession an enviable one. Is the priesthood or religious life considered professions? It is not exactly. The call to priestly and religious life is not exactly a profession; it is a vocation tailored for service in the Church. For this reason, every fourth Sunday of Easter is set aside to pray for vocations. Good Shepherd Sunday is also known as Vocations Sunday to remember those already serving in the priestly or religious life. It is also for all Christians to reflect about their contributions to the human family through their professions and careers.
The question that always faces me is about how I ended up being a priest. I often do not have a tailored response to satisfy this question. However, what I know is that the Irish priests came from Ireland and evangelized Nigeria for a long time beginning from the late 19th century. When I was born, I saw them wielding lots of influence in the community. They were committed to the faith and developed the communities they served. They translated our first bibles into the local languages. In fact, I did not regard them as foreign-born as they celebrated Masses in multiple local languages. Now can you imagine why I became a priest! By watching these priests, I became attracted to the priestly life. The rest is history.
In the gospel, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.” When you reflect deeply on these words, you can clearly understand that every leader in any profession is called to lead according to the vision and mission of the organization. What is the motivation that makes you jump out of bed to your duty post every morning? Does working eight hours at a stretch every day with all those commanding memos arriving from your boss make you happy by night?
The call to service is an opportunity to add value to the organization that you call your office. I had a deep attraction for military life, but it did not work out well. I could not run ten miles in one hour. My uncles and my neighbors wearing military uniforms and looking handsome influenced a deeper attraction in me to the military. I do not feel that way anymore. I am most handsome in priestly vestments. The best service I find is in the priestly life when I celebrate the sacraments. Today I am a missionary outside of my country like those Irish missionaries I admired and respected.
The need for vocations to the priestly and religious life is great all over the world. Many Christian communities are underserved and so desire the response of young men and women to assist the missionary activity of the Church. For example, according to figures from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 27 percent of priests ordained in 2005 were foreign born. That is an indication that there is a greater need for vocations. However, as of 2009 the Vatican office of statistics said the worldwide numbers is increasing. African priests increased by 38.5%, Asian by 30.5% while North America by 7% and Europe and Oceania by 4.6%. Yet there is a greater need for priests across our world today.
Today’s celebration should be a reflection about the service we have enjoyed from men and women who committed their lives to serve in Holy Mother Church. Although the Church in the United States and elsewhere experienced the sexual abuse scandals, it is a new dawn for the Church. We should reconsider our attitudes toward our individual vocations, professions, and careers. Working in our positions does not give us an open door to abuse people but to serve them by adding value to their lives. We should work together to ensure a safe environment for worship and liturgy knowing that our young adults are needed to answer God’s call to serve as priests and religious. Keep praying!BACK TO LIST