By the time you read this, radio personality and Catholic commentator Gloria Purvis will have already offered her lecture, “Discovering Your Gifts and Mission” at the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel in Storrs to UConn students and young adults of our diocesan community. Her talk is the first of three in a new Fall lecture series for young adults called “Metanoia.” Sponsored by the Office of Vocations and Campus Ministry at UConn, the Metanoia lecture series will feature speakers of various backgrounds and states of life offering unique personal reflections on the question and meaning of vocation.
In his short book, “Discovering Your Personal Vocation: The Search for Meaning Through the Spiritual Exercises,” Herbert Alphonso reminds us that a fundamental theme that runs through the Bible is “called by name.” He says, “What it amounts to is, I am not one in a crowd for God, I am not a serialized number nor a catalogued card; I am unrepeatable and unique, for God "calls me by name” (p. 9).”
This reality, he says, can be called many things: our personal identity, our personal orientation in life, or our true self. Ultimately, he concludes, what it refers to is our personal vocation, understood as a calling from God to a specific orientation or mission in life.
How often do we restrict the term “vocation” to priestly and religious vocations? My hope in offering this lecture series at St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel is to provide a space for young people on campus and throughout our diocese to actively question God’s bigger picture and plan for them and their lives. I hope these talks inspire our listeners to look differently (perhaps more profoundly) at themselves and each other. I hope they help them, as Pope Francis says, “to delight in dreaming together.”
I have asked each of our lecturers to address the question of vocation from their unique perspective and experience. They will shed light on their unique journeys of faith and how their relationships with God have opened them up to embracing their true “selves.” They will offer insight into how to practically discern one’s vocation or mission in life as coming from the heart and mind of the One who calls each of us by name.
Again, the Metanoia lectures will be offered in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on the UConn campus in Storrs, which holds about 250-300 people. Please spread the word. We hope to fill the chapel this Fall with students and young adults from throughout our diocese. I’m grateful to Liza Roach, our diocesan youth minister, for her assistance in spreading the word about these upcoming lectures and being a point of contact for our young people who wish to attend. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or her with any questions that you have about the lecture series.
As always, we remember all of our young people in our prayers. May they become increasingly aware of God’s personal plan for them. May they accept it freely and profoundly. May they live it out faithfully and generously. Amen.
--Father Jonathan Ficara, Director of Vocations