See that smiling fellow on the left of the page? His name is Fr. Larry Rice and he’s the current Vocations Director for the Paulists. His job is to guide men in the process of discernment. He talks to them, prays for them and with them, and assists them on their journey.
The Vocation Network website puts it this way:
A vocation director is designated by a religious institute to promote vowed membership, to help others discern their vocation, and to oversee the application process of new members entering the community as a postulant. They assist those who are considering the possibility of religious life by providing support, discernment counseling, and information.The Vocation director for a religious congregation answers to the elected superiors of their congregation. The National Religious Vocation Conference is the professional organization for vocation directors of religious communities.
Vocation Directors who work on behalf of a diocese answer to the bishop.They have their own professional organization, the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors.)
It might sound (a little) like Vocations Directors are recruiters, looking to grow the ranks. This isn’t the case. In fact, anyone who has been pressured is not (by canon law) permitted to take vows. The ordained life — like marriage — is only legitimately available to those who choose it freely.
It might interest you to know that there are Vocations Directors for nuns as well. Sister M. Consolata is the Vocations Director for the Sisters of St. Francis of Alton, Illinois. She describes her role in working with young women in the process of discernment.
My role is to help you. Do you feel a tug on your heart to give everything to Jesus? Do you desire to live only for Him? Or maybe you are just wondering what religious life is all about.
I am here to help answer your questions and walk with you during your time of discernment. Remember, the Lord takes the first initiative. He loves you. Yes, YOU! Then He invites you to make a response to His love. Be not afraid! I would love to hear from you and about your journey with of faith.
Whether you’re a woman considering a vocation as a nun or a man considering the priesthood, your first contact should be with a Vocations Director. There will likely be one in your diocese and there are plenty of links on the web that you can use to contact them. Communicating with a Vocations Director will be an important step in the vocation journey — not just for the discerner, but also for that person’s family.
We haven’t yet had the opportunity to meet Evan’s current Vocations Director, Fr. Rice. We did get to meet Fr. Rice’s predecessor, Fr. Dave Farnum when he came through Utah to meet with Evan a year ago last spring. Fr. Dave is a wonderful man who told us about his own call to the priesthood. He reassured us about the process of discernment and gave us insight into what the ordained life would be like. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with him and are grateful for everything that he — and Fr. Rice — have done for Evan.