I am currently in the United States (preaching a parish mission in a diocese in Florida) and it gives me some opportunity for reflection. Having time to reflect for an extended period is something that I don't often get a chance to do. So, I am more than grateful for this time.
When far away from home, ones thoughts often turn to family and friends and people who are important in my life and the influence that they have on me. It's fair to say that I have been blessed with people who are both encouraging and challenging to me and I thank God for those people. Many are friends who have been part of my own vocational story. Family members have been and are also very important in the continuation of my vocation. It is often the example of good lives of people that we know and love that can spark the seed of a vocation in our hearts. This is certainly the case in my own vocation story. Some that come to mind are, for example, the dedication and guidance of an Irish Christian Brother who taught me in secondary school, the selfless way of life of a neighbour who was always encouraging to me as a precocious teenager, the exemplary and simple spiritual life of my late father and the promptings and encouragement of a friend who died at a very young age. All of them, in their own small way, have had a hand in my own decision to follow my chosen path.
In talking to some of the young people in this parish where the mission that I am engaged with is taking place, I have found some who are actively seeking to discern their call in life and some who are wondering whether God is calling them to service in His church. In talking to them, it beomes evident that an important factor in their wondering has been the influence of family and friends. 'The life and death of each one of us has its influence on others' says Saint Paul. How true! If you are reading this and wondering about your vocation, then trust the opinions of your familes and friends. They are very important in your decision making process. If they, the people that know you the best, can look at you and say 'I can see you becoming a priest, brother or sister' you can take that as part of Christ's body reaching out to another. Listen to that call and take it seriously!