By Judith Costello
For The Catholic Messenger
For 21 years, the Sacred Heart Cathedral Vocations Committee of Davenport has worked continuously to encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
“The members have changed and sometimes it feels as if our work has slowed to a crawl, but we keep going,” said Mary Costello, president of the committee since 2005. “We hope that our work has led to a few of the new vocations in the diocese.”
The committee’s current project involves interviewing as many priests of the diocese as possible about how they experienced the call to serve God. They will be sharing stories periodically in The Catholic Messenger and also sending shorter versions of the stories to parish bulletins. Eventually, the committee hopes to publish a book about vocations.
“Some priests may have felt called as children and the path to religious life has continued in a straight line. But others have said there were doubts and detours,” said Costello. “I remember Father (Marvin) Mottet talking about his call. He told us he was a bit of a joker in high school and was sent out of the classroom one time for being disruptive. As he sat in the hallway, a visiting priest stopped and asked why he was sitting on the floor. After Fr. Mottet explained, the priest said, ‘You should be a priest. We need people who have a sense of humor.’”
In the upcoming stories about hearing God’s call, readers will learn about times when total strangers have said to young people, “You should be a priest.” Some of those interviewed have been encouraged by family and church members while others have felt alone with this call to a way of life that is so different from the career paths encouraged by the secular world.
Costello cites a 2007 survey by the University of Chicago about career happiness, which said that the clergy are the happiest of all. “We want to get the word out that answering God is what leads to happiness!”
Members of the Sacred Heart Vocations Committee are Marianne Overholt, Jan Pullella, Pat Knopick, Larry Huber, Gerry Goebel, Marina Castel and Mary Costello. Huber served as the committee’s president from its founding in 1997 until 2005.