By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — A holy hour for vocations and other prayers drew around 50 people Nov. 6 to Sacred Heart Cathedral. Father Thom Hennen, the Davenport Diocese’s director of vocations, led the holy hour.
In his homily, Fr. Hennen noted that the holy hour was being held during National Vocations Awareness Week. The celebration typically has been held in January but moved to November nationally due to scheduling conflicts.
“Today we gather in a special way to go and do something the Lord asks us to do — send laborers into his vineyard,” Fr. Hennen said, noting that there are different calls to vocations in the Church and the world. Encouraging vocations “is the work of all of us. I can help with the process, but I need you to pray for and encourage vocations.”
He reflected on a reading from Samuel in which Samuel heard a voice but was unsure who was calling him. With the help of Eli, Samuel came to learn that God was calling him. Samuel didn’t respond to the voice the first or second time. He responded the third time.
“Part of our work is to help people to pick out that voice that is calling them over all the voices calling them in different directions. We need to be ready for God’s call,” Fr. Hennen said.
Invitations, especially personal invitations, help in this discernment. He doesn’t recall his parents or catechists asking him about becoming a priest. “If they did ask – I wasn’t listening,” he laughed. “I had thought of it in fourth grade.” The only person he remembers asking him about his vocation was a missionary priest from Africa celebrating Mass at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa. “I don’t know his name, where he was from in Africa and if he is alive or not today,” Fr. Hennen said.
After the Mass in Ottumwa, the priest approached the young altar server (Thom Hennen) and asked him if he had thought of becoming a priest. “That stuck in my mind.”
The challenge Fr. Hennen puts to the people of the diocese is to pray, give personal invitations and demonstrate perseverance. The calling to vocations can be to the priesthood, religious Sisters, the diaconate and lay ecclesial ministry.
Following the homily, attendees prayed the rosary, reflecting on the Luminous Mysteries. The evening closed with the song, “Here I am Lord.”
Joe Rohret of St. Peter Parish in Cosgrove and a deacon candidate said more holy hours are needed. He most enjoyed sitting in complete silence to pray.
“This was a nice event, and it was prayerful,” said John Jacobsen of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, also a deacon candidate. He said there are men and women in the community who need a nudge and encouragement to enter religious life or to enter lay ecclesial ministry.