Jesus Christ calls everyone to live a life of vocation. He calls some to marriage and others to priesthood, religious life, or the single life. He may also call some married and single men to the diaconate.
With each vocation, a person lives a life of faith and prayer so that he/she may continue to grow in his/her friendship with God. The Catholic Church recognizes that each vocation is equal in the sense that no vocation is better or less than the other. Because God calls one to a particular vocation, that vocation is the best for that individual because it is the one that will lead them to friendship with Christ and service to Christ’s bride, the church.
For more information, contact Father Ed or Father John Therese, Deacon Kevin or Deacon Ernie, and refer to the Office of Vocations of the Archdiocese of Denver.
Christ instituted marriage as a means of extending the “real presence” of his own marriage to the church (see Eph. 5:21-33). He instituted marriage to make the spouses holy, to procreate and raise children in his own image and likeness, and to establish a stable foundation for all of society. A married person lives a vow of faithfulness to his or her spouse through the sacrament of marriage. Husbands and wives are called to be love-giving, self-giving, other-honoring, and life-giving in their relationship. They help one another grow to be more human and more mature in Christ. They form a family home and together are the first to teach their children Christian faith and values, especially by modeling discipleship for them. Those who are married serve in their parish community or in the church several different ways.
The Catholic priest is a male ordained minister who gives his life in complete service to the church. Priests are asked to embrace celibacy and commit to a life of pastoral service to the People of God. Priests celebrate the sacraments, lead the parish in its worship of God, teach the Catholic faith, and serve their parishioners and the poor by meeting their pastoral needs. Most priests minister in a parish setting while others serve as chaplains in universities, hospitals, prisons, or in other Christian communities.
Religious priests, brothers, and sisters (commonly referred to as nuns) commit their lives to the mission of their religious community, wherein they embrace the call to poverty, chastity, and obedience. They foster their call through a life of celibacy, prayer, and service. Religious priests, brothers, and sisters normally serve in specialized areas of ministry, such as healthcare, teaching, and in specific missions found in remote areas of the world. The distinctive marks of a religious priest, brother, or sister are 1) living in community; 2) serving the charism (mission) of the religious order to which they belong; 3) wearing the distinctive garb of their religious order, which is also a sign of their poverty.
A true vocation in the Lord and in the church, the single life is, for some, the truest and only way to faithfully to live his/her baptismal calling. As St. Paul himself says, “Everyone should live as the Lord has assigned, just as God called each one” (I Cor 7:17). And then he adds, “An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord….An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit” (vs. 32, 34). Many single people dedicate their lives to Christ and the service of his people without formal promises or vows. Others make promises or vows of virginity.
A deacon is either a single or married man who is ordained to serve the poor in the name of the church. According to Church teaching, he is ordained not to priesthood but to service in imitation of Christ, the suffering servant who came not to be served but to serve. In the Mass, the deacon proclaims the gospel, leads the congregation in the prayers of the faithful, distributes the chalice of Christ’s Precious Blood, and leads the congregation out to glorify the Lord, announce the gospel, and serve one another. The Lord and the church call to this ministry men of more mature faith, stable marriages and family life (if married and with a family), and a heart for loving and serving the poor. If you want to know more about the diaconate, our pastor, Father Ed, has written a book on the spirituality and ministry of the deacon, entitled A New Friendship.