If you listen, God is calling

This past week, as the Church in the United States observed National Vocations Awareness Week, I was reminded that everyone has a personal calling from God and that hearing his call requires the intimacy of prayer.

My own vocation to the priesthood began during elementary school and blossomed in my college years at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The culture of the late 60s was searching for its identity, trying to find it in the sexual revolution and the casting aside of traditional beliefs. Like many of my peers, I questioned my faith, yet I never stopped searching for the truth.

I began with Eastern religions and worked my way back to a strong belief in Christianity. One day, during a communion service I was attending at the Wesley Foundation, I had a realization. I asked the others what they believed about the Eucharist, and they said, “Oh, you know, it’s just something spiritual, a sign.” And I thought, “The Catholic Church has the real thing!”

I wanted the real thing, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, and that hunger brought me back into the Church. I went to confession, to Mass, and began to reflect seriously about the priesthood. My path is not the same as many of 75 the seminarians we are blessed to have studying for our archdiocese today, but there are some fundamental elements that every person discerning their vocation, and those raising or forming children, should be aware of.

The seeds of a person’s vocation to any of the states in life are typically nurtured in the family. The future priests, religious and parents of our archdiocese will learn from their parents and extended family about the importance of faith, the Fatherhood of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit and the joy of knowing and being redeemed by Jesus through his Church.

Father Jim Crisman, our director of priestly vocations, describes the typical pattern of discovering a vocation as, “the family makes it possible for the young person to hear God’s call, which happens within the parish and in personal prayer.”

Surveys of men and women who have been called to the religious life or priesthood show that many of them first sensed God drawing them to their vocation by the age of 11. This means that parents, grandparents, teachers, anyone who has a role in forming children in the faith, should not be afraid to encourage them to ask, “What is God calling you to do with your life?”

The response to that question may take years to develop, or perhaps they will be receptive to God’s call right away. What matters is that we create the conditions for that call to take root. A few practical ways to do this are to spend time praying together as a family, show your children how to begin a relationship with Jesus, and frequent the sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist, since they are the sacraments that help us encounter Jesus in an intimate way.

Above all, be confident that God is reaching out to touch the hearts of young men and women and giving them vocations, no matter the circumstances. We must help our young people understand that God has a unique, particular plan for every human being that only he or she can fulfill, and that this path will bring them true happiness.

This year, a young man named Peter Srsich began his spirituality year at St. John Vianney Seminary. If Peter had his way, he would have entered seminary earlier, but God had a different plan. He first heard a clear call to the priesthood during a Focus 11 retreat at Mullen High School, but his journey began before that, when a religion teacher challenged him to learn about the faith and to live it.

Then, as he was nearing graduation from high school, Peter learned that he had a form of blood cancer. He was told that the rigors of seminary life—years of intense formation in the spiritual, human, intellectual and academic spheres—would be too difficult for him to attempt while battling cancer. But two years later Peter had beaten his cancer and was accepted into our archdiocesan seminary. The Lord used that battle to form Peter into an even more peaceful, joy-filled young man who is able to pursue the call God has given to him.

Just as Peter’s religion teacher invited him to be open to faith and God’s plan, may every one of us ask the Lord how he is calling us to guide others to him. May we devote our lives to listening in the quiet of hearts to the Lord and growing in intimacy with him!

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.