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As Catholics, we are called to be saints, to be joined in communion with God in heaven. It’s our most grand vocation and what our seeking hearts yearn for. How do we get there? That’s where our own individual path to ever-growing holiness comes in. Whether it be through priesthood, religious life, marriage or the single life, each represents a “yes” and a willing step taken toward sainthood. Even though the path to our unique call or responding to the Lord’s personal invitation can sometimes be paved with doubt and confusion, the ultimate reward is fulfilling beyond comprehension. For this Vocations Awareness Week, we spoke with young Catholics around metro Detroit about their own vocational path.

Finding God’s Grace in Discernment

“Throughout my early-mid twenties, I experienced a sort of deeper conversion in my faith, and I felt like my love story with Jesus started to take center stage. As long as I had him, I had everything I needed, and everything else – including my vocation – would follow from that.” – Leah Butalid, St. Aloysius parishioner, married  

“I had the big American Dream in my mind while going to Mass on Sundays. I moved to the United States when I was 24 to pursue my dream of studying further in Information Technology. My first Sunday away from home, my heart started to burn at Mass, and an increased desire to receive Jesus in the Eucharist was filling my soul.” – Father Michael Bruno Selvaraj, National Shrine of the Little Flower, Royal Oak

“Dan and I met when I was working in a Christian health center in Memphis, TN, and he was working at a Catholic non-profit in Ann Arbor leading dental mission trips. We both had a desire to serve and to live in humility. We turn to each other often and stand in amazement before God that created someone so perfect for each of us.” – Catherine Piaskowski, St. Aloysius parishioner, married

“I experienced the initial stirrings of a call around the age of 14 while participating in a few missionary trips. I remember at that time listening to a talk on purity and chastity, which was directed at a large group of teenagers who were probably not listening too well. However, by the grace of God, I remember that talk to this day and the note that I signed that I would try my best to live a pure life by God’s grace…As much as I would have liked for God to reveal my vocation to me on a big flashing billboard, I heard the Lord calling me to discern Religious Life through that still small voice. This is often how the Lord speaks to us.” – Sister Carla Reyna, Servants of Jesus of the Divine Mercy

Where There’s Doubt, Trust

“When I would start to doubt if marriage was God’s will for me, I would return to what he had revealed in my life thus far, spend time in prayer with him, and try to resist the temptation to try to predict the future. I couldn’t know what marriage would bring, but I did know all that God had revealed throughout our dating relationship, and I trusted that.” – Leah Butalid

“I had many doubts, although I found peace when I started to pursue my vocation. It was Jesus’ love for me and for the whole world that kept pushing me in my faith to always persevere.” – Father Michael Bruno Selvaraj

“There were temptations and doubts along the way, but that is life. These things are ultimately allowed in order that we may strengthen our resolve to do the will of God and offer our wills up for His greater glory. After a time of dragging my feet out of fear, I knew that taking a leap of faith and entering a Religious Community would lead me to my ultimate happiness.” – Sister Carla Reyna

“Being young, a 25-year-old single woman, sometimes it’s easy to choose comparison instead of surrender. Often the messaging I see or hear indicates that I am ‘being left behind’ or ‘running out of time.’ How could the author of my whole story neglect to write the ending? The reality is that no vocation will ultimately fill me. No husband or religious order can fill the God-shaped hole in my heart. That is the tremendous love story offered to every human heart.” – Anna Picasso, Detroit Catholic Campus Ministry Outreach Coordinator

For Guidance, Call on the Saints

“The person I look to is our Blessed Virgin Mary. She has always been the one I go to for guidance in my vocation. I am happy to have “Marie” next to my name as she is a reminder to me of how she was a model of faith and how I am to model it to others.” – Sister Felicity Marie Madigan, Deo Gratias Ministries, Felician Sisters

“Both Blessed Solnuas Casey and St. Teresa of Calcutta help me remain grounded in focusing my attention on caring for souls and placing my other responsibilities in subordination to that end.” – Father Richard Dorsch, St. Hugo of the Hills, Bloomfield Hills

“The Holy Family is a source of immense comfort and deep love in my life. Who better to entrust my vocation to than our Holy Parents?” – Anna Picasso

“St. Faustina is the major patron Saint of our community, and we call upon her intercession every day in our prayers since she is the Apostle of Divine Mercy. She is a reminder that God can do great things, especially in a humble and beautiful soul like hers. She was always well aware of her misery and sinfulness, which made her an even greater instrument for God to work through.” – Sister Carla Reyna

The Importance of Following “The Call”

“Following God’s plan is ultimately what will lead each of us to the life of holiness he has created us for! And our life of holiness is where we will find true, lasting happiness. But his plan isn’t some secret puzzle he’s waiting for us to figure out; it’s a gift he will reveal along the journey to him.” – Leah Butalid

“There is nothing more important in my life than responding to God’s call. I believe it could be the same for anyone. God made me for the singular vocation to know him, to love him, and to serve him. That is my goal each and every day of my priesthood. One’s happiness is found in the vocation to which one is called. Don’t think too much, just do it!” – Father Michael Bruno Selvaraj

“The call to live out the mission of the Church is steeped in the reality of his goodness. That’s what I’m learning, accepting and striving to believe – that God keeps his promises.” – Anna Picasso

“There will be external and internal influences steering you away from God’s will for your life. However, God’s will is perfect and will lead us to eternal happiness. It is a gift to be able to offer our wills up for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. By following God’s call for your life, we are stepping out in faith and allowing ourselves to become instruments in the hand of God to bring his children back to him, who is goodness and love itself.” – Sister Carla Reyna

“I found it important to follow God’s call for my life because once I surrendered to his will of serving him and his church, I found the peace I was looking for.” – Sister Felicity Marie Madigan

“When you start becoming occupied with God’s quest, his love, his mission – then your mission, your own reason for getting out of bed each day, your own discernment, your own vocation, becomes clear.” – Father Richard Dorsch

Advice to Those Who are Discerning

“For those actively discerning (in a serious relationship), I recommend staying close to the sacraments and spending time before the Blessed Sacrament. Take everything to the Lord and stay grounded in the reality that you’re discerning if God is calling you to lay down your life for this person.” – Leah Butalid

“There have always been and will always be distractions in this world. I encourage those who are especially discerning their vocation to seek counsel from a wise spiritual director, embrace silence, and ask the Lord, “What would you have me do with my life? What would be most pleasing to you?” Then, as Pope St. John Paul II says, ‘Be Not Afraid!’ God only wants what is good, beautiful, and true for each of us. He is a faithful God who will lead us into peace if we simply take his hand and trust in him.” –Sister Carla Reyna

“Surrender yourself to God and his providence. It is easier said than done, but that is where true freedom is found.” – Father Michael Bruno Selvaraj

“Regardless of what vocation you are pursuing, personal relationship with the Lord is not only how we accept this call but how we live it. This will look different for every person, but prayer is an opportunity for him to truly see us in our frustrations, difficulties, hidden dreams, and hopes.” – Anna Picasso

“I would advise those discerning their vocation to speak with a spiritual director for guidance in their discernment process.” – Sister Felicity Marie Madigan

“Don’t believe the lie that your vocation doesn’t start until you’ve made your vows. You are living and breathing right now because God still has a plan for you in your life as a disciple.” – Catherine Piaskowski

“If the idea of priesthood has been on your heart, the time to act on that is now. Commit to growing in holiness as a Catholic man, speak to a priest after Mass on Sunday, reach out to our Director of Priestly Vocations, etc.” – Father Richard Dorsch