April 25: World Day of prayer for vocations (Fr. Jose CMI)
(Sunday Bulletin, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, Palm Coast, Florida 32164)
Montse Medina: came to Stanford University from Spain to study aeronautic engineering and artificial intelligence. While she was there, she founded Jetlore, a startup that specializes in artificial intelligence. It became a huge success almost immediately, and in 2017 it was bought by PayPal, making Montse an instant millionaire. With two master’s degrees, and a Ph.D. in mathematical and computational engineering from Stanford University, she went back to Spain in 2018 and joined the prestigious consulting firm Deloitte as a partner. However, in 2019 at the age of 34, she abandoned her prosperous career and joined the contemplative Augustinian convent in Santa Ana in Spain. Why did she do that?
Dolores Hart: became the sweetheart of Hollywood at the age of 18 when she starred opposite Elvis Presley in the movie, Loving You in 1957. During the next five years, she starred in nine more films and got engaged to be married. However, at the age of 24, Dolores left the Tinsel town and became a contemplative nun at the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT. Why did she do that? Olalla Oliveros was s supermodel and movie star in Spain. In 2014, at the age of 36, she abandoned her glamorous career and became a member of a semicloistered convent. Why did she do that?
Andrea Jaeger: was a professional tennis player who reached the singles finals of the French Open in 1982 and the Wimbledon in 1983. Winner of 10 singles finals, she made millions of dollars in prize money and endorsements. After devoting her life to service and charitable activities for a few years, she became a nun in the Anglican religious Order of Preachers in 2016. Why did she do that?
Philip Mulryne: As a young man, Philip Mulryne of Northern Ireland entered the professional world of soccer in 1994, joining Manchester United in England. Looking for better opportunities, Mulryne joined Norwich City Football team in Norfolk in 1999. He continued to play professional football successfully until 2008, when he joined a seminary to study for the priesthood. In 2017 he became a priest in the Dominican religious order. Why did he do that?
Chase Hilgenbrinck: While growing up in Quincy, Illinois, Chase Hilgenbrinck always dreamed of becoming a soccer star. With a lot of talent and hard work, he made United States Under-17 national team and played for Clemson Tigers. After graduation from Clemson University, he went to Chile to play professional soccer. Eight years later, in January 2008, he returned to the US and joined the New England Revolution. However, in July that year, he left professional soccer and started studies for the priesthood. In 2014 he was ordained a priest for the diocese of Peoria in Illinois. Why did he do that?
We have seen the stories of six extraordinary people who left everything either to enter religious life or priesthood. Why did they do that? Before joining the convent, Montse Medina wrote to her friends and admirers, “I believe that God is calling me to leave everything to follow his Son Jesus more closely. He has put a fire in me that kindles an insatiable need to love and serve him.”
When Dolores Hart who is now known as Mother Dolores was asked why she was throwing her life away, she said, “If you heard what I hear, you would come too!” Olalla Oliveros had the same experience. “The Lord is never wrong,” she said. “He asked if I will follow him, and I could not refuse.” In the case of Fr. Philip Mulryne and Fr. Chase Hilgenbrinck, the story is not any different. They went into the priesthood as they knew they could not resist the call of Jesus to follow him.
The Apostles of Jesus had the same experience. When Jesus called them, they could not resist his call; they abandoned everything and followed him. Today Jesus continues to call men and women to follow him more closely by serving his people. However, while some people respond to his call positively, others either ignore or resist his call. That is why we need to pray for more vocations as reminded by Jesus, “The harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few; so pray to the harvest master to send out laborers to his harvest” (Mathew 9:37-38).
We are observing Sunday, April 25, as the World of Prayer for Vocations. Kindly remember to pray every day for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Let us pray that those who hear what people like Dolores Hart and others heard may respond to the call of the Lord with courage, enthusiasm, and love. Similarly, please remember to promote vocations, especially by giving our children a solid Catholic faith formation and effective daily Christian witnessing. (Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, CMI)