We have been blessed in the diocese with several opportunities for young people to look into their faith more deeply and the Lord seems to be drawing them through retreat experiences like those offered at Mount Tabor Youth Retreat and Conference Center located in Menasha. There is also a new retreat team of young people who are giving retreats to their peers and younger children as confirmation preparation or as short days of recollection to think about their relationship with Jesus and the church. (See Spiritus, page 5A.) That too is centered at Mount Tabor but they travel around the diocese to provide retreats.
The Catholic Youth Expeditions (page 8A), under the capable leadership of Fr. Quinn Mann and his team, continues to be a very large draw to young people. Many of the new seminarians have had direct experience with CYE. We are very grateful to the Sacred Heart Fathers for the lease of the former St. Joseph Retreat Center to the diocese and CYE as now this formation center has become a perfect location to host youth retreats and vocation opportunities for our young people in a beautiful setting.
Fr. Tom Long and I host Project Andrew dinners at the Bishop’s residence for young men and their pastors. Priests from around the diocese bring young men from their parishes who are thinking of the priesthood for an evening of pizza and good discussion about the call of God. This year we will be hosting one for young women who are also considering the call to consecrated life and the gift of service to Christ and the church. The vocations office has many contacts that they reach out to as young people consider the call.
I cannot emphasize enough the influence of the family on a young son or daughter who is thinking of this kind of life commitment. Your support and encouragement is very important and helps the young person decide to make that commitment. Of course, the most important foundation is prayer, eucharistic adoration, prayer at home for vocations, prayer and learning about vocations in our Catholic schools and religious education programs. All of these efforts and initiatives are very significant and important.
There is so much to be done in our world and the church, and the world needs very much the witness of the priesthood and religious life. These vocations remind everyone that the Kingdom of God is here but not fully and we are, all of us, whether married, single or religious, called to prepare the way of the Lord from our own vocation or walk in life. These vocations of priesthood and religious life remind us all of the most significant of transcendent values.
This life is short. Use the time you have well. Prepare for the life that will never end.