By Jourdan Reynolds
As we approach the launch of Vision 20/20, I would like to share my thoughts on another goal of our Diocese of Davenport’s faith initiative: reading the signs of the times.
When looking around and witnessing all that is happening in the world, the nation and within our parish communities, my heart especially aches when I observe the closing/combining of churches and the decreasing number of vocations to the priesthood. If the Eucharist is the core foundation of our faith, what is to come when the opportunity of this gift becomes less and less available? I would like to share my passion for vocations and the Eucharist and how I intend to do my part in expanding “the kingdom of heaven” on earth.
Following my re-conversion to the Catholic faith, my love for the Eucharist increased with each passing year. The joy and peace I received when attending Mass or praying before the Blessed Sacrament would instill in me a greater devotion to share God’s love with others. As I come from a family of salesmen, the thought of marketing the Catholic faith to others became very appealing. In a time when youths are easily distracted and are in need of constant entertainment, evangelization must include a sales and marketing technique in order to win over the masses. Not to say that Christ in the Eucharist is not enough, but that ways of engaging young persons inevitably need to include methods of advertising, initially showing them that Catholicism is fun and life-giving. This is the “sign of the times.”
One of my main reasons for looking into the priesthood and religious life was to increase vocations. It bothered me when my peers would quickly say “no,” or say that they could never do that. The thought of being a priest can seem daunting, but so can the thought of being a husband and father. I believe it’s very beneficial and healthy for young men to inquire about the priesthood, even if they don’t end up becoming a priest.
As baptized Catholics, we are all called to perform the roles of prophet, priest and king, just as our Lord did. And so, I set my mind on the idea of possibly becoming a priest someday. I wanted to ensure the availability of the Eucharist. The fact that only a few guys at my school were willing to look into it also caused me to take action. “If not them, why not me?” was my thought process.
While this was an honorable discernment process for me to undertake, it would be years later before I learned a very valuable lesson: individuals do not call themselves to the priesthood; God calls the individual. I believe this is one of the greatest methods of thought that a young man can possess when looking into the priesthood, or any vocation for that matter. To pray and ask God what he desires for you, and not so much what you desire to do for God.
After four years of actively discerning the priesthood, I made the decision to pursue the vocation of marriage. And after four years of discerning my future wife, God placed the woman of my dreams before me. I would like to believe that God still has plans for me in playing a role for vocation awareness and, just like St. Paul, “I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible” (1 Cor. 9:19).
(Jourdan Reynolds is a secretary and bookkeeper for St. Mary of the Visitation in Ottumwa, Iowa.)