Answering God's call

January 10, 2012

HOUSTON — When someone hears the “call,” what should that person do next?
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops vocation guidelines, the most important step about answering the call is the discernment phase. 

When asked about vocations in April of 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said, “the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call.”

The word vocation comes from a Latin word, which means “a call.” In a more specific Catholic term, the word “vocation” refers to the four ways of life that one may choose in response to God’s call to holiness and to partake in Christ’s work of redemption: Christian marriage, the single life, the Consecrated Life and Holy Orders. By virtue of Baptism, everyone is given the task of discovering God’s will and mission. 

“If you hear God calling you, make sure [to] talk with your parish priest or religious sister to get direction and guidance,” Father Dat Hoang, Director of Vocations of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, said. “Another is to simply deepen your discernment. Get invloved at your parish. Find a spiritual director that can help you and be there for you throughout the discernment process.”

Above all, Father Hoang suggests prayer.

“Any person going through discernment, must have a deep, intimate relationship with God,” he said.

The steps
First step / Prayer: 

The first step in discernment is to build a strong life of prayer. Make time to go to Mass and adoration. It is important to learn to make time everyday, at least 15 minutes, to pray in silence.

Second step / Know your options and yourself: 
If you are called to a priestly or religious life, there are many possibilities. Each Archdiocese/diocese and each religious community has a vocation director. Call or email so that you can establish a relationship. Ask a priest or religious to be your spiritual director to help you in the process of discernment.

Third step / Get involved: 
Involvment in various ministries can give you the experience of what it’s like to serve. In doing so, you will be able to confront strenghts and limitations, while experiencing God’s grace in ministries and services. Area of ministries can range from youth ministries, young adult groups, ushers, lectors or extraordinary ministers of communion. Take time to visit the seminaries and religious communities. Most Archdioceses/dioceses and religious communties have events such as “Come and See” or “Live-in weekend.”

Fourth step / Making a decision: 
Most priests and religious were not 100 percent certain that religious life was their “call” when they entered the seminary or religious community. After prayers, study and consulting with others, you should be able to feel deep in your heart an inclination or a strong desire toward one way or another. At some point, the person will have to make a courageous decision to commit himself/herself to a deeper and more formal discernment in the seminary or religious community.

Fifth step / Find an event: 
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s Office of Vocations can assist in the discernment process. Attend various events such as “Discover the Road Less Traveled,” “Life Awareness Retreat,” “Explore Retreat,” “Men’s Discernment Retreat” and “Live-In Weekend.” 

For information on any of these events, visit To get more information on “A Priority Initiative” of the USCCB, visit The web site is designed to help all members of the Church foster vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. †