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Bishop's Corner

 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinJanuary 9, 2009 Issue 

Priesthood ranks high in job satisfaction survey

photo of Bishop David L. Ricken
David Ricken

Recent research has shown that the two professions or jobs with the highest level of personal satisfaction are firefighters and clergy, with special emphasis on Catholic priests. It may appear strange at first, given for example, the recent sexual misconduct challenges for the church and the great opposition to clerical celibacy that has arisen from time to time over the past 40 years. It seems strange that firefighters, who often put their lives at great risk at a moment's notice, have such high job satisfaction.

However, these two jobs perhaps are not just jobs but have a very focused sense of mission, one which serves others, one which saves others from bodily harm and danger and the other which nourishes the spiritual lives of others and saves them from spiritual and everlasting harm. Perhaps it is this sense of mission that gives these walks of life - or vocations, as we say in the church - a great sense of personal satisfaction. Giving one's life for the sake of others.

A vocation is a call from Jesus Christ and a call from the church. Jesus places a sense of call and mission and a desire to serve him and the church upon a young man's or a young woman's heart. A strong sense of a call to follow through on that vocation or that strong desire to discern the vocation to talk to others who are living the life is very important.

In this diocese in recent years, there has been a great shortage of priestly vocations and this needs to be, for the Diocese of Green Bay, a very great priority over the next five to 10 years. We pray that we may increase the numbers of our seminarians and work diligently to raise vocation awareness among our families, in our Catholic schools, in our religious education programs and in all of our efforts across the board with regard to church life and church work.

There really is not a shortage of vocations; there is a shortage of "yesses" to the call. God does not cheat the church by not providing enough leadership for the church but it is difficult these days to hear the call and to say yes to it, especially for young people who have so many opportunities and often so many distractions that they cannot hear the call.

And so I ask the priests, the religious, the deacons, all the faithful and all families to truly be aware of God working in the soul of someone right next to you, someone in your family, someone in your classroom, someone in the work place who may have a call to serve Christ and the church.

Let us pray regularly for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Just as we need priests, we also need young women to respond to God's call to the religious life. We have several very good communities in this diocese who could benefit greatly by adding to their numbers, young women who are being called to the consecrated life through a profession of vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and community life and mission.

During this January, the month when we focus on vocations, I ask you all to pray extra prayers and to ask the question of some young man that you may think would make a good priest or a young woman who you think may make a good religious. We need to focus on these two vocations in a particular way because there is such great need for these vocations at this time.

This does not mean that we do not continue to also give emphasis to the deaconate, to lay ministry formation, to lay ecclesial ministry formation, and to the call of the laity at all, it simply means that now, because of the great need, we focus very clearly and specifically on the priesthood and religious life.

Thanking you very much, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. David L. Ricken, DD, JCL
Bishop of Green Bay

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