World Day of Prayer for Vocations
Father Brian Barr
Diocesan vocation director

Just recently I saw the movie “42.” It’s the story of Jackie Robinson and his struggle to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball in the 1940’s. It’s a powerful story of an American hero. In the movie, Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the architect of this plan to bring a black player into an all white league. Before asking Robinson, Rickey does an extensive search of the Negro Baseball Leagues. He knows he’ll need a unique individual to take on this revolutionary task. He’ll need not only a great athlete, but also a great man. He’ll need someone who’ll be able to endure extraordinary opposition and hostility. Someone who’ll be able to turn the other cheek when confronted with bigotry and ignorance. Rickey finds that special person in Jackie Robinson.

In some respects, Branch Rickey calls Jackie Robinson to a unique greatness. He doesn’t force or require him — he invites him. Robinson accepts the invitation and becomes a hero for the ages. This idea of being called or invited to greatness is a story that we’ve heard before. Just look at scripture and consider the prophets. They were individuals who were called by God to missions of greatness. They too, were frequently met with opposition, but remained faithful to God’s invitation. Consider our Communion of Saints. Like the prophets, they said “yes” to God’s plan for them, and in the process inspired generations to holiness.

I’d ask you to consider, for a moment, what God’s plan is for you? What has He invited you to and how have you responded? On April 21, the Church celebrated World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In setting aside this Fourth Sunday of Easter, all are asked to consider those questions and that special invitation.

In a particular way, I ask you to pray for young people. Pray that they be open to God’s plan for them. Take a moment and consider some of the young people you know, particularly those with a sense of faith and a desire to serve. Be their Branch Rickey. Ask them if they’ve ever considered the priesthood or religious life. Invite them. And pray for them.

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