Who will I serve?

Serving God and His people can be done in a myriad of ways. There are two flavors: diocesan and religious.

  1. Most diocesan priests serve in a parish, with a few assisting at hospitals, schools, or administrative positions.
  2. If a person joins a religious community (an order) then the starting point is to learn what is the community’s "charism" (the gifts established by the founder for service). There are orders that are highly involved in the apostolate of education at different levels (grade, high school, or university). Others have a charism for diverse hospital ministry. Some are more involved in Catholic publications and campus ministry. Others are mostly serving in parishes or as missionaries. Many religious orders of priests, brothers, and sisters have several charisms and allow their religious to allow their religious to move into other ministry fields over the years. The works of religious communities are as beautiful and diverse as flowers in the field --- ask the Vocation Director for the particulars of his or her community.
Where will I serve?

In the initial years of formation, you will like serve in part-time apostolates (ministries) near your house of studies and formation house. In the summer months you might travel to placements elsewhere. During formation years, there are often preparations completed for your future ministerial area.

After final vows and/or ordination, you will serve most likely in your diocese if you are a newly ordained diocesan priest. If you are a religious, you’ll most likely serve in one of your order’s apostolates. Additionally, a few years after final profession, religious and priests take a sabbatical leave in pursuit of advanced degrees or accreditation (hospital chaplain’s “CPE”, teaching certification, or continuing education for professional development).

What types of vocations are there?
Priesthood

Men who wish to be ministers of the Gospel and administer the Sacraments of the Church become seminarians. They will study philosophy and later spend years in graduate-level theology before serving as a deacon prior to ordination to the priesthood.

If they are religious seminarians, they will enter the novitiate and take vows. Religious priests will often go to other parts of the country or overseas to serve in the apostolates of their community.

Diocesan seminarians do not go to the novitiate or take a vow of poverty. They do take a vow of celibacy, and make promises to their bishop. Most diocesan priests will spend their life within the diocese where they were ordained.

Religious Community (Sisters, Brothers)

For women, there is the vocation to sisterhood in a religious community. There are many women’s communities with wide diversity of apostolates. Most women in religious live in a common house. The same could be said about men in religious brotherhood– men taking the vows, living in community, and diversity of apostolates.

Jesus has promised many blessings for those who forego all things for the sake of him and the Gospel. A religious often finds amazing support from the community to seek advance degrees and/or professional accreditation. Many fellow brothers or sisters will become deep friends and companions during one’s life-long journey. Religious may have options to change careers and locales throughout the world in the service of others. Many religious are deeply committed and find immense joy from their vocational calling. Above all else, they are called to grow in holiness.

Monastic Life (Nuns, Monks)

Religious priests, on the other hand, will often go to other parts of the country or overseas to serve in the apostolates of their community.

Some Catholics are called to a form of religious life that is ancient and well-respected in the Church. They take the three vow: poverty, celibacy and obedience; and some take a fourth vow called “stability” to remain within the monastery their entire life. These monks and nuns are primarily devoted to prayer, and pray at regular intervals throughout the 24 hour day, in addition to earning a livelihood within the confines of a cloister. Some of the monks will be called by their community to become priests.

What Will My Vows Be? What Will I Give Up When Accepting a Religious Vocation?

All religious take temporary evangelical vows of poverty, celibacy/chastity, and obedience.

In professing vows, one does not run from the world or his or herself, but embraces the Living God in the imitation of Christ.

There will likely be at least two years of preparation and study of the vows before making the simple (yearly or temporary) vows. After living these vows for a minimum of three years, a religious may petition to make final or permanent life-long commitment. Each community may require more years than others.

The vow of poverty entails living from the community’s common purse and all income earned by the religious goes to the community. The religious community, in turn, provides for all the needs of each religious for such expenses as: education, medical, vacation and clothing.

The vow of celibacy/chastity means foregoing marriage and children for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Members of your religious community are your brothers and sisters for life. Most religious communities have a house for the common living quarters for the religious who will share in daily prayers, meals, and support.

The vow of obedience means that a religious forgoes his/her own will and works with religious superiors in discerning God’s will for the direction of his/her life and that of the community. A religious vocation can be immensely freeing for an individual who gives up the accumulation of material possessions and having spouse and children in order to embrace prayer and the mission of the community.

A religious vocation can be immensely freeing for an individual who gives up the accumulation of material possessions and having spouse and children in order to embrace prayer and the mission of the community. In professing vows, one does not run from the world or his or herself, but embraces the Living God in the imitation of Christ.

What joys do you experience in your life as a Holy Cross Sister?
Sister M. Kenneth Regan, C.S.C.

Our day as Sisters of the Holy Cross begins with prayer. To have all the Sisters together helps me to know I'm not praying alone.

The structure of my life affords me time to keep a schedule that helps me to continue contact with students, faculty, parents, as well as time to read.

It brings a great deal of satisfaction to me to have former students come by to see me. Some come just to talk about "the good old days." Others talk about their current lives and ask, "Do you remember?" Just last week, I met with 3 former students. It is wonderful to see their zest for life and to know that they are active in the Church. They are proud to be Catholics, and they are working hard to help their families grow strong in the love of God and care for those in need. I am so grateful to have been a part of their lives. Others come by just to let me know that they are in the neighborhood. God is so good!

Perhaps the place I've found the most happiness and joy is living in community! It helps so much to keep me on the straight and narrow!

Sister Nancy Pewterbaugh, C.S.C

Helping others find peace and strength when they have lost a loved one.

Bringing comfort to those who are ill and to their families.

Helping others grow through education and blossom into mature adults contributing in the ministry of the Catholic Church.

Helping people establish Mission Churches for the further evangelizing of their Community.

Helping communities achieve their dream of a permanent church or parish hall, so that they can come together and worship as a faith community and to celebrate festivities.

Sister M. Adelaide Cannon, C.S.C

One joy I experience daily is knowing I am part of a big Holy Cross family (priests, brothers, sisters and associates) whose members live and work in so many parts of the world.

I experience joy knowing that as an international and intercultural community, we are a model for the world that people can live together in peace.

I experience joy in viewing all creation as God's special gift to us--and to all people.

I experience joy when I can help someone grow in faith, or do something he or she never thought he/she could do.

I experience the joy of challenges in ministry.

Sister Mary Eleanor Sullivan, C.S.C

The greatest joy which I receive as a Sister of the Holy Cross is the opportunity and challenge to live, pray and serve in an international community of women committed to Jesus and to the Church.

St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church - 2309 Euclid Ave., Austin, TX 78704