By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles
The Catholic Church in the United States celebrates National Vocation Awareness Week November 1-7 this year. The annual celebration is a reminder to encourage the faithful to renew their prayerful support for those discerning the call to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life.
The Diocese of Lake Charles recently ordained four men to the priesthood in late June, and another as a transitional deacon. It was the largest number of priests ordained at one time in the 40-year history of the Diocese.
Father Andrew DeRouen and Father Levi Thompson were among the newly ordained priests and share their own experiences of how they recognized God’s call to them, along with advice for those in discernment.
“I would remind the young man discerning a call to the priesthood that the inner voice he hears calling him to become a priest is not his own,” said Father DeRouen, now serving as parochial vicar at St. Theodore Catholic Church in Moss Bluff and St. Pius X Catholic Church in Ragley.
“The idea of priesthood is not something to which man calls himself, but rather it is always God’s initiative. Period. The men you see becoming priests have all cooperated with God’s grace,” DeRouen continued, “meaning that God is not expecting men to make themselves and others holy without Him. God just needs your willingness to let Him work with you and through you.”
If there is a spark of desire of God’s call in your heart, Father Levi Thompson, parochial vicar at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, recommends listening to it.
“There was a small desire in my heart and I slowly knew that it could only be satisfied as a priest of Jesus Christ,” Thompson said. “It felt like a prolonged invitation that was nurtured in the Eucharist. After celebrating my first Mass as a priest, I realized that everything had been worth it. The invitation was real; the call of God was real; and the adventure of priesthood was just beginning.”
One way Father DeRouen knew that God was calling him to be a priest was through his restlessness as an architecture student searching for answers about why people design buildings in different ways throughout history. This led to a curiosity about why people value some things over others, and then why people worship.
“By the time I was knee deep in my own philosophical questions, I realized I would not be satisfied with any answers until I experienced seminary life,” DeRouen said. “I prayed, ‘God, open the doors that need to be opened, close the doors that need to be closed, and help me to pay attention.”
Thompson agrees that prayer is key when discerning God’s call to a particular vocation.
“Pray and bring that intention to Christ. God’s will for us is always beyond our expectations,” said Thompson.