It seems fitting that during this, National Vocation Awareness Week, we ask our vocation director, Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S., to tell his own vocation story:
The story of my call is a great story of God’s patience. I was slow to listen, and good at ignoring the call. I didn’t fully hear God’s call until I was in my early 30’s—though I know now that God had been calling me from as early as third grade.
When I was 15, my parish in California had a transitional deacon who was a Missionary of the Precious Blood. He talked to the youth group about the deaconate, and he also told us about permanent deacons—and I thought, “Aha! That would be the best of both worlds!” As a permanent deacon, I could serve the Church AND be a husband and father. But, since 35 the minimum age to enter permanent deacon training, it was literally a lifetime away.
The voice I finally heard came from an unlikely source. I was in my early 30’s and managing a restaurant with the dream of one day opening a place of my own. I was also active in my parish, and was part of the choir that would sing the Exultet during the Easter Vigil. I was talking with Karen, a server at the restaurant where I worked. She was not a Catholic—she wasn’t even a Christian. She practiced no faith. We were talking about music and life when I said something like, “If priests could be married, I would probably enter the seminary tomorrow.”
Without missing a beat, she said, “That’s a lousy reason not to do it.”
I was blown away by her comment. It was like a frying pan to the back of the head. I was used to hearing comments like that from priests and Catholic grandmas, but not from someone like Karen. But it was God speaking through Karen that finally got through to me. I began to discern, to prayerfully ask who is it that God is calling me to be in this world. I discovered I had a heart for ministry. I would have been perfectly happy as a husband and a father—but never as happy as I am as a priest and a Missionary of the Precious Blood.
Our vocation is, for me and for you, our best path toward holiness and joy: our best path toward heaven. So if you are searching for your vocation, or praying that our young people discover theirs, I say, pray boldly! And if you feel that God may be calling you to life as a priest, religious brother or sister, take the time to listen. Don’t be scared of it, and don’t ignore it. For me, it’s been the best journey of my life.