The Vocation of Men

When I first began discerning my vocation, I had many doubts and questions, but one seemed to loom larger than the rest – how could I live without experiencing motherhood?  Then one afternoon, I had EWTN on in my house while I was doing some chores; I heard a young sister begin sharing her vocation story.  I stopped working when she began speaking about her desire to be a mother and about spiritual motherhood; it was as if a fog had been lifted and I was exhilarated.  [You can watch the clip here.]

But just as every woman is called to motherhood, every man is called to fatherhood: to give, sustain and protect life, and to draw others to God.  St. Joseph, whose feast we celebrate today, is a beautiful example of the vocation of men.  A just and faithful man, he cared and provided for Mary and Jesus.  We can imagine Joseph protecting Mary on their travels to Bethlehem and during their flight to Egypt.  We can picture him taking Jesus as a boy under his wing to teach him the trade of a carpenter.  He is the patron saint of a happy death and provision for families.  In times of need or unemployment, many turn to St. Joseph for help and guidance.

I was blessed to be raised by two generous, loving parents.  But I’ve also been encouraged, edified and mentored by others following the examples of Mary and Joseph.  Today, I want to recognize the men who take seriously the call to fatherhood, in their families and in the Church: The pastors who taught me to love Jesus and the Scriptures.  The priests who prepared me to be received into the Catholic Church and walked with me as I discerned my vocation.  My friends and brothers in Christ who have encouraged me along the way.  And the men who give so much of their time and talents to support The Labouré Society.  Truly, they become spiritual fathers to us aspirants as we persevere toward entering our religious communities and formation programs.

The Labouré Society is structured so each aspirant is given an accountability partner – a coach – to be a guide and mentor through the class term.  Each week, the aspirant is responsible to report back to their AP and talk on the phone about how things are going, sharing blessings and struggles, and seek advice for the coming week.  The AP’s are generally successful professionals with families, busy careers, and highly involved in their local church and other Catholic organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus,  Serra, the Order of Malta, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Legatus, and others.  But they are committed to taking time out of their schedules to mentor and encourage the aspirants, because they believe in the mission of Labouré: to build up the Church by delivering vocations to the priesthood and religious life through student loan resolution. 

I’ve been blessed to learn from some amazing men through my time with Labouré.  But there are four I’ve been privileged to work with most closely: Cy Laurent, founder and executive director of Labouré; Frank Moore, a Labouré board member; John Flanagan, development director of Labouré; and most recently, Ed Kocourek, a new volunteer with Labouré.  God has taught me so much through their example, advice, and encouragement, not just about fundraising as missionary work, but about myself and my life in Christ.  I will forever be grateful for their “yes”; they and their families remain in my daily prayers.

In reaching out and inviting others to support Labouré and vocations like mine, I’ve also been touched by the generosity, kindness, and zeal of other men who have committed to walk with me and my aspirants as friends and benefactors – men who love God and the Church.  I can honestly say, without the prayers and support of these men, life would be much harsher, and much more bleak.

Men, how is God challenging you to more fully embrace your call to fatherhood?  Women, how can we encourage and support the men in our lives as they strive to follow the example of St. Joseph?  Whether we are called to the priesthood, religious life, or marriage, we can turn to St. Joseph as a father and example of what true manhood looks like.

St. Joseph, husband of Mary, pray for us!

Saint Joseph

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