|Diocesan Priest||Religious Order||Permanent Deacon||Marriage||Single Life|
What is a Vocation?
In the simplest terms, “vocation” means a “call.” So, in general terms your vocation is what God calls you to do with your life. Everybody is called by God to know, love and serve him. The difference is how each one does this. The idea of vocation is central to the Christian belief that God has created each person with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life. This call to follow Jesus leads people to one of the four paths: single life, married life, consecrated life, or ordination to the priesthood.
In the broadest sense, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being". More specifically, in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, this idea of vocation is especially associated with a divine call to service to the Church and humanity through particular vocational life commitments such as marriage to a particular person, consecration as a religious, ordination to priestly ministry in the Church, and even a holy life as a single person. In the broader sense, Christian vocation includes the use of one's gifts in their profession, family life, church, and civic commitments for the sake of the greater common good.
What Is Discernment?
The ongoing prayerful reflection about the circumstances of our daily lives by which we seek to discover God's unique call. The process of determining God's desire in a situation or for one's life.
Vocation to the Priesthood or Religious Life
The Diocese of Youngstown has a Vocations Website for those considering the possibility that the Lord could be calling them to serve Him and His Church as a diocesan priest, a permanent deacon, or member of a religious order. For more information on the priesthood, please contact Rev. Christopher Luoni. For information on the diaconate, please contact Msgr. John Zuraw. For more information on consecrated life, please contact Sister Joyce Candidi, OSHJ.
What is the difference between a diocesan priest and a religious order priest?
A religious order priest belongs to a community of men bound together by faith and the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Poverty means that they do not own things individually but rather as a group; chastity means that they refrain from sexual activity and do not marry; obedience means that, after appropriate consultation, they do what their superiors ask them to do. It is not necessary to be a priest to be a member of a religious order; those who are not priests are called brothers. The priests and brothers of a religious community may engage in any kind of work for the Church and the good of humanity; they often specialize in certain kinds of work such as education, work with the sick or poor, and service in the foreign missions.
A diocesan priest does not make the solemn vows that religious priests (and religious brothers and sisters) make but he does make promises that are discussed in subsequent questions. Perhaps the most striking difference between him and a religious order priest is that the diocesan priest lives a life more like that of his people: he buys his own clothes and car, he pays taxes, he may own personal property. That is why a diocesan priest is sometimes called a secular priest (from the Latin saeculum, a word that means roughly “this world of time and space in which we live”).
A diocesan priest belongs to the body of priests (called the presbyterate) of a local diocese, which is a particular territory within a state or country. The Archdiocese of Washington comprises the District of Columbia and five Maryland counties: Montgomery, Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s. A diocesan priest normally serves within the boundaries of his diocese under the authority of his bishop.
Roman Catholic Orders are associations of men and women within the Roman Catholic Church who are dedicated to lives of prayer, service, and devotion. Many of these members commit themselves to specific communities in which they live a common life following a specific religious rule (a collection of guiding rules ordering community life and devotion) and under the direction of religious leaders. Religious Orders can include both clergy and laity. Most members of religious orders also make public vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity as acts of devotion and in imitation of Jesus. Many Roman Catholic Orders are monastic, but many others are not. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes three different types of religious Orders: Monastic, Mendicant (Friars), and Canons Regular (priests living in a community and active in a particular parish). The largest Monastic Order is the Benedictines and two of the most common Mendicant Orders include Dominicans and Franciscans. Female Orders usually have fewer numbers in their communities than their male counterparts, but more female communities exist. Many of the female Orders are dedicated to teaching and service. Even though many Roman Catholic Orders trace their origins to the Middle Ages, some go as far back as the 6th Century C.E. (the Benedictine Order). Religious Orders all follow a particular religious rule. The most common include the Rule of St. Benedict, St. Augustine, or St. Basil, each of which stresses different aspects of religious life.
Frequently Asked Questions About Permanent Diaconate
Who is a Deacon?
A deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church. There are three "orders" of ordained ministers in the Church: bishops, presbyters, and deacons. Deacons are ordained as a sacramental sign to the Church and to the world of Christ, who came "to serve and not to be served." The entire Church is called by Christ to serve, and the deacon, in virtue of his sacramental ordination and through his various ministries, is to be a servant in a servant-Church.
What are the various ministries of the Deacon?
As ministers of Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach, and teach in the name of the Church. As ministers of Sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of Charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshaling the Church's resources to meet those needs. Deacons are also dedicated to eliminating the injustices or inequities that cause such needs. But no matter what specific functions a deacon performs, they flow from his sacramental identity. In other words, it is not only WHAT a deacon does, but WHO a deacon is, that is important.
Why do some deacons become priests?
For many years ordained ministers "ascended" from one office to another, culminating in ordination to the presbyterate, or priesthood. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), however, authorized the restoration of the diaconate as a PERMANENT order of ministry. So, while students for the priesthood are still ordained deacons (transitional) prior to their ordination as priests, there are more than 13,000 deacons in the United States alone who minister in this Order permanently. There is no difference in the sacramental sign or the functions between these so-called "transitional" and "permanent deacons."
May married men be ordained deacons?
Yes. The Second Vatican Council decreed that the diaconate, when it was restored as a permanent order in the hierarchy, could be opened to "mature married men," later clarified to mean men over the age of 35. This is in keeping with the ancient tradition of the Church, in which married men were ordained into ministry. Also in keeping with ancient practice is the expectation that while a married man may be ordained, an ordained man, if his wife should die, may not marry again without special permission.
Is a Deacon ordained for the Parish or the Diocese?
Whenever a person is ordained, he is to serve the diocesan Church. Deacons are no different in this regard: they are assigned by the bishop to ministries for which the bishop perceives a great need, and for which the deacon may have special gifts or talents. Most often, this will be within a parish setting, just as most priests minister under the immediate supervision of the pastor. However, this assignment may be changed at the request of the deacon or the initiative of the bishop.
Qualities to Look For in a Young Person Who May
Have a Vocation to the Priesthood or Religious Life
As one of the faithful you may be the way by which a young man or woman is able to hear God's call. When you recognize some of the following characteristics in a person, have the courage to approach him or her and invite that person to consider a calling to the religious life or the priesthood.
Such qualities include, but are not limited to:
An ability to help others and to relate well with peers and adults.
A growing relationship with God that is demonstrated through prayer, service to others, and involvement in parish ministry.
Is a believing, practicing member of a Catholic community.
Has a gift of leadership that draws others in and promotes a spirit of collaborative teamwork which affirms and challenges.
Courage to take a stand to "do the right thing", even when it is not popular.
Exhibits good intelligence and has done well academically.
Has a thirst to know Christ and wants to bring His teachings to the world
A witness to others by word, action and deed on how to live as a disciple of Christ.
A concern for issues that affects others, such social justice and peace. A willingness to serve to help right these issues.
Demonstrates good people skills, lives with a sense of hope and joy, and possesses a good sense of humor.
The young person is dependable and trustworthy.
Lives as a good Christian man or woman who shows stability in his or her lifestyle.
Others see in the young man or woman the potential for a calling to the priesthood or religious life.
The Vocation of Marriage
When the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a Christian vocation it is saying that the couple’s relationship is more than simply their choice to enter a union which is a social and legal institution. In addition to these things, marriage involves a call from God and a response from two people who promise to build, with the help of divine grace, a lifelong, intimate and sacramental partnership of love and life.
The vocation to marriage is a call to a life of holiness and service within the couple’s own relationship and in their family. As a particular way of following the Lord, this vocation also challenges a couple to live their marriage in a way that expresses God’s truth and love in the world.
The Vocation of Single Life
Life as a single person can be a vocation from God! It is not simply reserved as the last "default" option, but the single life can be the way we serve God and one another. All are called to live their life joined to Christ in Baptism. For many, single life becomes the best way to fulfill their vocation whether being “single” is a choice or a circumstance.
Accepting the vocation of the single life means choosing to serve God as a member of the laity. Single persons serve the Christian family through acts of love and service, in a variety of lay ministries. Living a single life invites individuals to make a difference in their community and world as Jesus did.
The vocation to the single life is a gift to the Church!