My father used to say he wanted to be a sailor when he grew up. The thing is, he was already a grown up when he announced that ambition. He wasn’t talking about the Navy; he was talking about taking the helm of his own boat someday and catching a good wind.
What kept Dad from heading to a dock to cast off every weekend or summer was his family. A wife and seven children come with some responsibilities and those duties were Dad’s priorities in life. Family always came first for my father and mother.
Dad’s jobs were mostly in sales. I marvel that he was able to raise us on a salesman’s salary, and in retrospect, I understand the pressures my parents faced in having a big family. But I know raising seven made them happy because they rarely showed any signs of the strain of the task.
Their lives demonstrated that being parents was their vocation in life. They fortified their vocation through their faith. My Dad prayed on his knees by his bed every night and my parents saw us to church each week and sent us all through Catholic schools.
This week’s Dialog features a story by Mike Lang about the annual diocesan Vocations Awareness Day held for hundreds of sixth-graders at St. Mark’s High School on Nov. 2.
The notion of a vocation in life, what God wants us to do with our lives, was front and center at the Vocations program put together by the Vocations and the Catholic Schools offices. There was an emphasis on considering a vocation in the church. The students were invited to think about becoming priests, sisters or brothers when they grow up.
Bishop Malooly, Sister Ann Strohminger, Father Glenn Evers, Brother Joseph Ash and Rich Jasper, who is studying to be a priest for the diocese, discussed priesthood and religious life with the students.
Father Evers had an astute answer for anyone wondering how God calls us to serve. For sixth-graders (and the rest of us) considering a vocation with the church or in marriage or single life, he said, the right choice will fill us with peace, joy and enthusiasm. “You know how it sits in your heart.”
Vocations Awareness Day is a good time for all of us to consider how we are serving God. There’s always a need for priests and religious sisters and brothers — not to mention permanent deacons (see page 1) — to serve God and the church.
Loving, knowing and serving God in this world is still the best preparation to be happy with him in the next.
Sixth-grade is a good time for students to start thinking about charting their course in life. It’s a big decision, but with the help of God and the church there are opportunities for course corrections along the way.
My father never got the sailboat he wanted but I’m sure he fulfilled his vocation in life. As far as being happy in the next, something told me he finally caught a good wind, too.
I was on the porch of a beach house in New Jersey at twilight and five of us there became distracted by what looked like a clipper ship looming behind the waves. It seemed much too close to shore to stay afloat for its apparent size.
We kept asking ourselves out loud, “What is that?” What we were seeing didn’t make sense. The boat was the same color as the waves. None of us remember just when we stopped looking at it but within minutes the phone rang and I learned that my father had died.
Ever since then, I’ve imagined my father sailing.
Ryan is editor/general manager of The Dialog.