Photo: Felix Carroll
More Than a Few Good Men
Vocations Director Reports on the Rise of Vocations
By Felix Carroll (May 14, 2010)
Wait a minute, aren't vocations supposed to be down? Don't most cultural indicators point to the improbability of men giving their lives over completely to God? Well, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, vocation director for the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception's Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province, has some good news to share: Vocations are up for the Marians, who are official promoters of The Divine Mercy message.
Father Donald, how many men are in formation, presently?
Right now, just in our province, we have 22 men in formation. And this summer we are expecting another eight to join. So, by mid-August we will have 30 men in formation. That's phenomenal! It used to be that vocations would "trickle" in. In recent years, by the grace of God, we've had a surge of interest.
What do you account for the turnaround in vocations?
Only a few years ago, the number of vocations was very small. I think a lot of that was just due to the cultural trends of the times. There has been so much materialism and embracing "independence" that guys were finding it really tough to discern. The culture offers them so many enticing packages, of career opportunities and making tons of money, etc. In my mind, there are two factors for why there's a vocations increase. The increase basically has come after the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005. His death was like a seed that was planted for new vocations. Upon his death, the vocations interest increased dramatically during the week he died, with all the coverage on television. I think the question of vocations had been stirring in men's hearts, and some men felt they had been running from it and they no longer wanted to run from it. And then after that, one of the most prominent things helping us with our vocations was the message of Divine Mercy. Every guy that calls me or talks to me or emails me, they find out about us because the Marians have been getting more and more known as the "Divine Mercy priests" — because of our appearances on EWTN and our websites, thedivinemercy.org and marian.org. More and more people are realizing that we have been spreading the authentic message of Divine Mercy since 1941.
Why do you think Divine Mercy has touched so many of these men?
Many of the men who are discerning have had a "re-version." They've had their faith stirred up again, and a lot of times it's because they've experienced the merciful God who has forgiven them for past sins and the mistakes they've made.
We have to face it: One of the most prominent devotions in churches today is Divine Mercy. So a lot of times men come to us very familiar with St. Faustina, with the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, with the Image of The Divine Mercy, and they want to be a part of that. Like the Lord says, "What you have been given, freely give." And they want to be apostles of mercy. When I travel and speak at conferences, Divine Mercy is all over the place. It's saturating everything. For any man who is discerning, he will come across something on Divine Mercy at some point. Our community is getting well known as the ones entrusted to spread this message. No other community promotes Divine Mercy like we do.
How would you describe the caliber of these men? What do they share in common?
They are very orthodox. They're faithful to the Church. They're very "Marian" — they love Our Lady immensely. They have a very Eucharistic-centered spirituality. There's camaraderie, too. They joke around. They're smart. They're real "guys."
And many of them come from diverse backgrounds, too.
Oh yes. Some have run their own businesses. We have guys who have been graphic designers and computer engineers. Quite a few of them are very well versed in Spanish, which is very interesting that God is bringing them to us. We've got four guys whose Spanish is excellent.
Considering the Marians' charism — to spread devotion to Mary as the Immaculate Conception, to offer your lives for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and to promote The Divine Mercy message and devotion — what is the most important quality you look for in a candidate?
No matter what work they're going to eventually do in the community, the foundation is that we want guys who just want to be holy. There's plenty of work to be done — in parishes, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, administration at the Marian Helpers Center, guys willing to go to the missions, including the Philippines — but first and foremost, we are looking for men who want to be holy.
Considering your own powerful conversion story, you must be a powerful draw for many men considering a vocation.
My name is out there because I speak at conferences constantly across the country and all over the world, and a lot of people, when I come to a conference, want to talk to me about vocations, and I'm basically running the vocations office on nothing. We're spending less money and getting more men. It's a matter of going out and speaking to conferences and parishes and youth groups and high schools, and that's where you go fishing, so to speak. And it works. Guys call me up and say, "I saw your video. I read your book. I've been thinking about a vocation." I love this work. I think it's what I've been called to do.
Learn more about Marian vocations on our vocations page.
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