We had a very enjoyable 'vocations live-in' weekend in our house of studies in St. Saviour's Priory, Dublin this past weekend. There were three men attending from Belfast, Donegal and Drogheda. During the course of conversations with different people, those attending the weekend talked a lot about where the seed of vocation was originally planted. It is interesting to note from them (and many other enquirers too!) that the thought of vocation occurs generally at a young age and that there are a number of influences from family to religious to priests. Common too, though, is the desire to put the thought of vocation out of one's mind until somehow, the call from God gets too strong. Then one has to do something about it. It set us talking and thinking though about the many people who consider vocation and never really follow up on it. Hence the reason for people like me to constantly put the option of religious vocation 'out there'.
The conversations at the weekend set me thinking about the influences on my own vocation. There were a few, I think. My mother and father were very good role-models in the way of faith. I was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers in secondary school and heavily influenced by them. They were excellent educators and gave a solid foundation in matters of faith. I remember distinctly a visit from a vocations director from the Salesian Order to our school and being totally captivated by what he was saying. I prayed the prayer for vocations that he gave us for years! And yet, I didn't join the Salesians. Then the only reason I joined the Dominican Order was because we got the Saint Martin Magazine in our house and I responded to an advertisment about vocations. And the rest, as they say, is history! It is a culmination of all the above factors and the prompting of God that brought me to this point.
Everyone has a different story as to how they became or think of becoming a religious. There is one constant though, no matter what the story, and that is God, who has designs on what we are to be. Without God, we are nothing.