But the work continues
By Fr. Thom Hennen
As the school year draws to a close, it seems like an opportune time to recap some of the things that have happened in the Office of Vocations this past academic year and to point out a few things on the horizon.
I was very pleased to begin the academic year with 12 seminarians, four of them new. I am even more pleased that two of these men, Deacon Kevin Anstey and Deacon Bob Cloos, will be ordained to the priesthood along with Deacon Chris Young on June 7. That means we will soon have three new priests to serve the people of the Diocese of Davenport. Also, two of our seminarians, Bill Roush and Guillermo Treviño, will come one step closer to priesthood as they are ordained to the transitional diaconate at the same Mass.
To “replace” those getting ordained, we have already welcomed one new seminarian to start in the fall and I am awaiting the application of at least one more. So things are looking good (or at least holding steady) in terms of numbers.
This is in part the result of a very busy year, which included: a discernment day for all Catholic high school juniors in the diocese, two vocation days for Catholic school fifth- and sixth-graders, two statewide Thinking of Priesthood days, two well-attended “come and see” weekends at Conception Seminary College (in Conception, Mo.), three successful Project Andrew dinners (in Davenport, Iowa City and Oskaloosa), multiple Catholic school, faith formation and home-school group visits, as well as youth retreats, young adult events and numerous conversations with those actively discerning their vocation. And all of that is really just the “vocations promotion” part of my ministry.
Granted, not all of this work in the vineyard of the Lord has borne fruit right away, but it is just this sort of regular activity that, over time, helps to create that “culture of vocations” that will yield an abundant harvest in the future.
As I look back on all of this, I am reminded that none of this is work that I have done (or indeed could do) alone. I can’t begin to thank all of the many people who have helped in so many ways over the past school year to promote and sustain vocations in the Diocese of Davenport.
Looking to the future, I am even more convinced that this can’t be a “one-man show.” Rather, we will be successful in cultivating vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life and to promoting robust lay involvement in the Church to the degree that parishes, schools and individuals take on a sense of personal responsibility for this most important work. Of course, it is God who does the real work and all of our efforts, mine and yours, have to be constantly nourished by our encounter with God through prayer and the sacraments.
I told someone the other day that I feel like I have been on a very fast roller coaster all year. While it feels like it might be “pulling into the station,” I know that it will soon shoot off again. Fortunately, I like roller coasters and so I’m ready for another ride.
(Fr. Hennen is vocations director for the Davenport Diocese. Contact him at (563) 888-4255 or hennen@davenport