CSA_EaselThis is the second in a series of articles written by directors of programs that receive funding from the Catholic Stewardship Appeal.

Priests and men and women religious are an integral and essential part of the life of the church.  Throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee tens of thousands of people benefit from the tireless work and efforts of those who have committed their lives as priests and religious to serving Christ and his church.

Without vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, the work of the church would not be able to move forward in fullness with which Christ has charged it.  But from where do these vocations come?  How does someone hear the voice of God in the depths of their heart and then learn how to respond to it?  How do they come to a deeper understanding of a life of ordained and consecrated ministry in the church? 

The Vocations Office of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee exists to accomplish those purposes.  The Vocations Office works with young people in particular to help them to hear God’s voice and to have the support and encouragement they need to respond to it.

There are two main roles of the Vocations Office.  The first is to work on developing a culture of vocations in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  This culture of vocations is a culture where people are able to hear God’s voice and have the encouragement, example and prayerful support they need to respond to it.

In pursuit of building this culture of vocations, the Vocations Office offers tours of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, gives presentations to parish schools and religious education programs, works on having a presence at Catholic high schools and colleges and sends a priest to celebrate weekend Masses at parishes with the focus being on developing this culture of vocations.

The second aspect of the work of the Vocations Office is to help support candidates in their discernment.  Over the course of the year the Vocations Office offers numerous activities, especially aimed at boys and young men thinking about the priesthood.

These include annual summer camps, discernment groups, retreats and sporting events.  While there is always fun and camaraderie at these events, their primary focus is spiritual – to help those thinking about a vocation to encounter Christ in an ever deepening way, so as to hear his voice and to be able to respond to it.

Jerry Krajewski, a freshman at Cardinal Stritch University, who is seriously considering the priesthood agrees.

“Going to vocations events like discernment groups, retreats and summer camps have given me comfort in knowing that I am not alone on the journey of discernment,” he said.

Supporting both of these missions are our website www.thinkpriest.org, Facebook page and perhaps most familiarly, our annual vocations poster which can be found in parishes and schools across the archdiocese. 

Without the support of the Catholic Stewardship Appeal these efforts to promote vocations to the priesthood and the religious life would be hindered immeasurably.  The Vocations Office relies on the support of the Catholic Stewardship Appeal, as well as the generosity of individual donors and organizations, to move forward on its mission.

(Fr. Berger is the associate vocations director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He can be reached at (414) 747-6437 or at vocations@sfs.edu.)