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A focus on vocations to the priesthood – Secondary Calling

By Fr. Hien Nguyen

Secondary Calling (continuation of Vocation’s reflection by Fr. Hien)

Secondary vocation, although less important than the first, is also a call from God. In this secondary call, we are invited by God to live a single or married life here on earth to respond to the primary call which is the participation in the divine life. From the single state of life we have different types: consecrated, religious men and women, priest, and single. The other state of life is married.

It is important to note that no matter what states in life we cooperate with God – whether choosing to live a single or married life, we are responsible to partake in God’s life and His salvation plan for us. For example, a priest – a secondary vocation – lives the priestly life to respond to the primary vocation, a call to live eternally with God.

A religious sister or brother – a secondary vocation – lives the consecrated life in responding to the primary call, to participate in the divine life. A married couple – a secondary vocation – lives as husband and wife and parent to respond to the first call, to share their lives in God’s.

A vocation is totally different from an occupation. An occupation is a job that helps a person to make a living whereas a vocation is a life the person lives.

Let’s take as an example our parents. Their vocation is to live out their married life, but their jobs – an essential part of their lives – are what they do to make money to support the family. Our parents, (mother or father) could be a pilot, a police officer, a doctor, etc. The job is part of the person, and it belongs to the mother or father as an adjective to a noun, an accident to a substance, or in this case an occupation to a vocation.

Parents, who live a secondary vocation of marriage, have many different jobs in their lives. Part of their vocation is to feed the children, to change diapers, to educate their kid in the faith and life, etc. The secondary vocation of a priest and part of the vocation is to celebrate Mass, anoint the sick, baptize, bring God’s forgiveness and mercy to sinners, etc. However, as for a job, he can be working at the office at the chancery to recruit more men and women to enter the life of the priesthood or religious.

These explanations will give some clarity in the discerning and help to distinguish the priority of vocations and what predicates to them.