Fr. Christopher Lemieux, the new vocations director for the Archdiocese of Toronto. Photo courtesy of Fr. Christopher Lemieux

Fr. Lemieux looks to build culture of vocations

  • June 11, 2014

TORONTO - On the journey toward one’s vocation, Fr. Christopher Lemieux hopes Catholics alter the question “what do I want to do with my life?” to “Lord, what is it you want me to do with my life?” 

On July 3, Lemieux takes over as vocations director for the Archdiocese of Toronto. He plans on working with others to build a culture of vocations and says the most important decision anyone discerning a vocation can make is to have an open heart to God and His will. 

Lemieux recalls his own vocation directors as crucial for his path to the priesthood. He was ordained a diocesan priest in 2012 by Cardinal Thomas Collins. In May 2013, the cardinal appointed him to the vocations council. Then in January, Lemieux became assistant vocations director to Fr. Hansoo Park, a position that would lead him to take over the role. 

“For anybody that’s appointed to an office like this, you pray that the Holy Spirit is going to guide you,” said Lemieux. “It’s a very different ministry than parish priesthood.” 

He served as an associate pastor at St. Patrick’s parish in Markham where he worked with youth groups. 

“I think I’ve had a fairly broad experience working with young people,” he said. “I believe vocational discernment involves us all… Young people will not respond to their vocation — especially priesthood and religious life — unless they are encouraged, supported and assisted by the people near and dear to them in their lives. Because of this, I have a team-oriented attitude towards vocation work: reaching out to the priests, youth ministers, chaplains and others.” 

Working at St. Patrick’s, one of the largest parishes in the archdiocese, also gave him a sense of what can be done from a vocations office standpoint to support the pastors, priests, ministers, pastoral associates, teachers, etc., in parishes and on school campuses. 

“I see the role of the vocations director as somebody who also assists those people in understanding and being able to be vocation promoters in their own way.” 

As the main vocation promoter for the diocesan priesthood, he plans on connecting with priests and lay Catholic associations and movements that foster faith. 

“The vocation director has a certain role to help dialogue with other ministers in the Church about how we can continue to build a culture of vocations, that there may be more vocation awareness,” Lemieux said. 

If a young man is considering the priesthood, his first point of contact should be his parish priest, Lemieux advises. The second step, with the parish priest’s guidance or otherwise, would be to contact the vocations office. When meeting with a young man, Lemieux would “draw out a sense” of how the man is “feeling called to God.” 

The vocations director and the discerner then work on building a relationship. 

“Once that relationship is built, it’s also much easier to get a sense of how we in the vocations office can help a man discerning his vocation,” he said. 

“A big part of what attracted me to the diocesan priesthood was having that relationship myself with Jesus, but also building relationships with others. Even in the short time I have been in the vocations office, it’s been very edifying to see how God is working in the hearts and minds of others.” 

He is also looking forward to the joys and challenges of the job. 

“I’m looking forward to working with our vocations council, six dedicated priests who are very committed to vocation work.” 

But regardless if one’s path leads to religious life, Lemieux says, “each and every one of us, our primary vocation is to be holy, to be a disciple and follower of Christ... From that flows our particular and unique vocation, whatever it may be.” 

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