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For Our Vocations

Each day during Catholic Schools Week, we will post a reflection on the focus of the day centered around this year’s theme: Faith. Academics. Service. The following reflection from Nick Senger looks at how the combination of these three values are important for Catholic vocations.

A Phone Call from God

In the Spring of 1990, I got a phone call from God. I wasn’t home to get the call, but my answering machine picked it up. It’s a good thing, too. Brenda and I were about to be married, we were moving to Boise, Idaho, and I had no job. God had called to offer me a teaching position at Sacred Heart Catholic School. (Click here to find out what God sounds like.)

Ok, so the call was from Marge Ransley, the principal at Sacred Heart; but one of the most important things my Catholic education has taught me is that God speaks to us through other people. That answering machine message may have sounded like Marge, but it was really God calling me to begin my vocation as a Catholic educator.

Catholic schools are in a unique position to help students hear the voice of God in their lives. Today’s young Catholics are bombarded with hundreds if not thousands of different messages each day. From tweets to text messages, from TV shows to YouTube videos, God’s call can get lost in a cacophony of misleading and distracting noise. Kids need help discerning God’s invitation to wholeness and holiness, and that’s where Catholic schools come in.

Catholic schools nourish and strengthen the gift of faith present in each student so that he or she can trust that God’s call will lead them to fullness of life.

Catholic schools provide the academic background students need to pursue their call and respond to God’s invitation.

Catholic schools show students how to place their vocation at the service of the world to care for the least among us and help build up the Kingdom of God.

Faith. Academics. Service. These have always been the hallmark of a Catholic education. Catholic school students don’t learn how to make a living, but how to make a difference.

This summer, God willing, I will be ordained a deacon, and the prospect is both exciting and frightening. It has been the same with all my vocational calls. Before Brenda and I got married, before our first child was born, and before I first stepped into that classroom in Boise twenty-two years ago, I wondered if I knew what I was getting myself into. Of course the answer was no, I didn’t really know. How could I? How can anyone? But the faith, academics, and service I received from St. Pius X Elementary School, Billings Central Catholic High School, and Gonzaga University prepared me for each of those vocations in ways that are impossible to measure.

Every child has a vocation, a particular call from God. The Holy Spirit whispers the call deep in their hearts, quietly beckoning them to a way of life that will lead them to ultimate holiness, happiness, and eternal life. Perhaps they are called to marriage, perhaps to the priesthood; maybe the whisper leads them to consecrated religious life or to serve the poorest of the poor.

How sad it would be to miss that call. With all the noise and confusion in the world, isn’t it comforting to know there is a sacred place kids can go to learn how to hear God’s invitation, trust it, and act on it? This is the mission of Catholic schools: Faith. Academics. Service.

Nick Senger is the founder and editor of the Catholic School Chronicle (http://www.nicksenger.com/csc/), a blog of news, resources, and community building for all those interested in Catholic education.  He is a teacher at All Saints Catholic School in Spokane, WA, and is in deacon formation for the Diocese of Spokane.