This past weekend ZENIT published a most uplifting interview with Sr. Catherine Marie Hopkins of the Nashville Dominicans. The entire interview, worth reading in full, may be viewed here.
What follows is an excerpt of the interview, in which Sister responds to a question regarding the keys to fostering vocations. Her answer is solid and not earth-shattering, but I love her reference to Pope Benedict’s call to American youth to become living icons of Christ the High Priest.
“I think that in order to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life the three highest priorities should be in the areas of education, sacramental devotion, and youth ministry that exposes young people to both prayer and evangelization.
“Young people are hungry to learn the faith and quickly recognize the unreasonableness of relativism. They have a natural desire to ‘know’ God and will be more likely to devote themselves to a life dedicated to him if they have been educated in the faith. I think that this generation is quick to identify the need for such an apostolic focus since the lack of it has produced such confusion and suffering. It is important that the Church continues to strengthen Catholic education that is focused, faithful and rooted in excellence.
“Devotion to the sacraments is key to discovering as well as nurturing a vocation. When young people benefit from regular reception of the Eucharist, confession and begin to develop a prayer life, then God’s call has a chance of being heard. Eucharistic adoration is drawing many vocations to the priesthood and religious life, a fact which makes sense if you consider that such time spent in God’s presence brings light and warmth to our souls.
“There is a movement of the Holy Spirit in progress that increases in intensity whenever youth affectively influence one another. There is nothing more powerful than the witness of young people striving to know and do God’s will. Love is not meant to be contained, and so when we discover the Person of Christ, it is natural to experience an interior compulsion to share that discovery with others.
“Substantial youth ministry which prompts conversion, devotion and exposure to positive peer influences has been successfully producing vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Of course, it is important for young people to be exposed to priests and religious who are joyfully and faithfully living that commitment.
“Pope Benedict put it best to the youth he spoke to in Dunwoodie when he challenged them saying, ‘Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the eternal High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons.’”