By Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S.
I often encourage people to invite and encourage young men and women they know to consider the possibility of consecrated life—we hope within the Precious Blood family! Sometimes people ask what traits make a young person well suited for life as a priest, religious brother or sister. So I offer the following list of characteristics that I look for in discerners as I journey with them.
Compassion: Generally this list is in no particular order, yet I put compassion first because it really is so central to our spirituality and charism. Compassion, usually joined to empathy, is the ability to enter into another’s suffering and stand in the breech with them. Compassion is seen in how they love those around them.
A servant’s heart: The detailed tasks of ministry can generally be taught, but this quality tends to come naturally. We’re looking for one who is willing to step in and do the needed task How often have people talked about how Precious Blood people aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty?
Team player: Our life involves living and serving alongside others. Very few ministries are one-person shows. The varied tasks for ministry require that we trust our partners in ministry and make sure we do the things that we need to do. Each of us playing our part allows us to produce a symphony.
Person of prayer: To quote Dom Chautard, prayer is “the soul of the apostolate.” The apostolic life is built on the foundation of prayer. Obviously, their prayer life will grow and change as they move through formation, but if they don’t come in with a practice of regular prayer and an existing relationship with God, they may find formation a challenge.
Sacraments: Eucharist and Reconciliation are central to our life and spirituality. Our ability to stand in the breech flows from our relationship with the Eucharistic Lord and our own experience of God’s bounteous mercy. A deep love of these two sacraments in particular are important elements of our life.
A listening ear: Sometimes the only thing we can do is listen. Whether it’s in the confessional, or in the grief support group, a Precious Blood person knows that sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. A Precious Blood person can listen and discern when to speak and when to stay silent.
Humility: To be humble is to embrace one’s humanness, warts and all. It means recognizing the gifts and lacks that are present in your life, and always remembering that they are all from God. As a Missionary of the Precious Blood, I get to do some amazing things, and they have nothing to do with who Steve is; they are all about my identity as a priest and a Missionary of the Precious Blood.
Courage: Being a follower of Jesus usually means taking a position that is difficult. The Gospel wasn’t welcomed 2000 years ago, and it still isn’t today. Being a disciple of Jesus means having the courage to do hard things and risk being shunned for his sake.
Leadership: Whether we have an official title of leadership or not, the people of God tend to look to priests, brothers and sisters as the experts and leaders. Leadership doesn’t mean being in charge, it’s about commitment to the task and having a voice that calls others to follow.
That’s quite a list. I don’t live up to this list perfectly; no one will have all of these qualities. Everyone has some of them to varying degrees. As you look at the people in your parish, look for those who exude these qualities. These are the people who would make great Missionaries, sisters or Companions. Pray for them and invite them.