By Jourdan Reynolds
St. Paul and St. Francis de Sales were both on horseback when God spoke to them of their vocation. I, on the other hand was on a riding lawn mower. I was a freshman in high school, simply cutting the grass when a thought came to me, “You know, I think I want to be a father when I grow up. I have an awesome dad who works hard and always wants the best for us. I want to do just the same.” I really liked the idea and felt at peace about it, but for whatever reason I didn’t think much of it afterwards. It wouldn’t be until much later that I would realize that this was God’s voice speaking to me.
The thought of vocations wouldn’t return until I attended Mass at my high school two years later. In his homily, our chaplain was explaining to us the issue of not having enough priests for our parishes. I remember him looking at all of the guys and saying, “Maybe, God is calling a few of you to the priesthood.” We all looked at each other and laughed. Afterwards however, I felt sadness within my heart. I enjoyed my time attending Mass, going to confession, and praying before the Blessed Sacrament, but we needed priests for all of these. It was then that another thought came to me, “Whatever vocation I eventually choose, I hope it will increase vocations to the priesthood.
What do you do if you don’t know what outfit you want at the store? You try it on! Well, much like choosing the outfit I liked best, figuring out my vocation was much the same. I, more or less, always wanted to get married and raise a family, but I didn’t see how that would increase vocations to the priesthood. I decided to put my ideas about marriage on hold and look at the priesthood and the religious life. Throughout my college career I looked at four different religious orders and visited my diocesan seminary. With each visit, I gained more knowledge and insight. I never realized the uniqueness and diversity of each religious order or the intensity of the process for the priesthood. All these things I took in with wonder and awe, which in turn increased my desire to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Sometime later, I remember attending Mass outside of town. As we were praying the petitions, one of the intentions immediately caught my attention, “Let us pray for all Catholic families, that they may foster vocations to the priesthood and the religious life.” At once, I felt that familiar peace within myself. I felt that God was confirming my vocation to the married life. By being the best husband and father that I could be, I would become God’s instrument to foster vocations to the priesthood, the religious life and even married life. I wasn’t sure how I would accomplish this, but one way or another, God would provide and answer my prayers. To this day, I continue to pray and listen to God’s promptings as to what he desires for my family and me. It is my hope and desire that God does the same for others, aiding them in discovering their identity and purpose.
(Jourdan Reynolds is the secretary and bookkeeper at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa.)