Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Weighing in on the "New" Trend in Vocations Posters

I didn't mind when the vocations posters in my diocese showed Fr. Glen in his role as a pit crew member at the Indianapolis 500. That meant that a priest had a life outside of his priestly duties, it made him human and somehow more real. In fact I loved that poster, because I have always seen Fr. Glen as a model of the servant Priest mode: someone for whom the priesthood was a true vocation, chosen out of his love for humanity and his wanting to serve others first and foremost.

I really have a problem with this new poster that has emerged from my own diocese. I don't believe that it is the official vocations poster for the diocese, but it has been making the rounds, and in the past week I have seen it in the St. Louis Catholic paper, and mentioned on three blogs, two of which I have on my sidebar: Mark Mossa and Rocco Palmo have both mentioned it in posts.

My biggest concern with this particular poster, is the image of "Priest as superhero" instead of "Priest as servant". The past two pastors I have worked for have been the image of the servant priest. Neither of them put themselves above the work they did. The other staff members and myself would constantly have to pinch ourselves because we were so amazed at how little ego was involved in their thought process when it came to their ministerial decisions.

Perhaps the priest in this poster could be the same kind of man as my pastor, but I don't see that coming through in the text or the image. When I think of the lives I want someone to mediate upon before they consider the priesthood, I want them to think about men like Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Oscar Romero or Padre Pio. That may be my own bias though. I hope posters like these do some good to bring good men to the vocation of priesthood.

I still believe that the shortage of priests will continue until we begin to look at how to uphold and strengthen the vocation of marriage, which as one of my favorite Bishops says in his prayer of petition for vocations is the source of all other vocations. In today's society marriage is so torn asunder that it is not surprising that so few husbands and wives feel that they are living a vocational call from God. I believe if they did feel that they were, they would want to make sure that their children were following God's vocational call wherever it led them, even if that meant sacrificing the possibility of having grandchildren to help a son follow God's call to the priesthood or a daughter follow God's call to religious life.

Faithfulness, not success has always been what Mrangelmeg and I have wanted for our children. This is what we should be teaching every married couple to want for their children, but you don't hear this kind of talk anywhere in the Church.

Oh well, I will continue to fight this battle, and I will pray for all vocations, especially the vocation of the single life, because I think it is the one that is the most ignored and least understood in the church.


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