Deacon Peter Lukow, left, and Sr. Margaret Moran, right, were two of the speakers who shared their vocational experience during the online Ordinandi Dinner Youth Event held online March 1. Photos from YouTube

Ordinandi find vocation in stillness and prayer

By  Peter Shaw, Youth Speak News
  • March 9, 2022

“Our life is too short to waste it on being mediocre. We must dive into life, not just dip our toes,” said Archbishop of Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, one of the guest speakers of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s 2022 Ordinandi Dinner Youth Event. 

The cardinals’ advice had already clearly been taken up by the seminarians who were being celebrated as they advance toward their vocation.

Hosted online on March 1, this annual gathering sponsored by the Serra Foundation of Canada provides a forum for the seminarians of Toronto’s St. Augustine’s Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Seminary to share their vocational stories and to inspire the next generation to contemplate their vocation. The youth event was complemented by the annual Ordinandi Dinner — held virtually again this year —which honoured the nine men who are headed toward ordination to the priesthood this year.

The 43-minute youth video has garnered over 4,700 views as of March 7.

Each of the guest speakers revealed how they realized God was calling them to pursue a purpose.

“You will feel it in your heart,” says Deacon Peter Lukow. “You just have to be willing to say yes.”

Lukow felt a stirring to pursue the religious life while on a retreat in the Muskoka Lakes in central Ontario in 2013. Embracing the quiet stillness of his environment allowed him to hear the Lord’s purpose for his life. He will be ordained in the coming months and will begin service in the Diocese of Peterborough.

Deacon Fraser McLaren also emphasized the importance of listening to God’s voice: “To really discern God’s call requires a lot of silence, a lot of prayer. (We need to) focus on our theology and focus on the things we know.”

McLaren enjoyed professional experiences as a teacher and accountant, but he kept feeling that the Lord was pulling him towards the priesthood. McLaren, who will serve the Archdiocese of Toronto upon becoming a priest, shared in his Ordinandi Dinner profile that he is inspired by a particular quote of St. Augustine’s: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”

The unique stories all stressed one message: God has a plan for us, and we need to pay attention to it. However, the listening can be hard. Even if one does hear God’s call, it may be difficult to discern what God is calling one to do. Lukow suggests taking “time in prayer, even just five minutes every day. Sit in a quiet spot and talk to Jesus.”

The speakers also stressed that God will always be there to help us through prayer, and we may seek counsel from priests.

The youth event also featured the vocational testimony from a representative of the Daughters of St. Paul. Sr. Margaret Moran recalled the trepidations she experienced when she contemplated her call to religious life.

“It’s that question that is a bit fearful and (it came) with a bit of trembling when I asked the vocations directress of the Daughters of St. Paul. It is the same question young people ask today. It’s a big question — a scary question. And when it surfaces, it leads to other big questions. ‘What if I don’t like it? Will I be happy? Is it exactly what I want to do?’”

Moran encouraged anyone discerning a religious vocation “to not get overwhelmed,” but instead take small steps of progress like reading Scripture, setting time aside for prayer and speaking to a spiritual director.

“Remember, the call to religious life is like every vocation — it requires a journey,” said Moran. “God wants to give us the answers, but He also wants to take us on a journey.”

(Shaw, 15, is completing home school in Barry’s Bay, Ont.)

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