CHARLESTON — Blessed Sacrament Church is doing its part to educate and recruit men and women interested in a life dedicated to God by periodically offering informative panel discussions. The first panel, comprised of several priests, religious sisters, and a deacon, met Feb. 26 at the church.
“The panel we chose was intended to show the diversity within religious life, and we were available to answer any questions people had,” said Father John Zimmerman, parochial vicar.
Of those in attendance, several expressed sincere interest in religious life. Deacon Joe Cahill, director of the Vocations Office and a panel member, was very pleased.
“I work for the Diocese of Charleston in vocations,” said Deacon Cahill. “They pay me a full-time salary to fill this job, so it is something that we take very seriously.”
The deacon is also grateful for the initiative of Father Zimmerman in creating this panel.
“There was a good purpose to the meeting,” he said. “Father Zimmerman organized the whole thing, and it was very well done.”
Father Zimmerman emphasized the commitment that comes with religious life and encouraged interested people to think seriously about it.
“A person may be called to the church but not necessarily to diocesan life,” he said. “Sometimes people should just let things gel — let the yeast rise so to speak.”
Despite the drop in numbers across the diocese for those entering religious vocations, Father Zimmerman said that boys and girls are still encouraged to experience life beyond high school before committing. And it is his goal to aid in making that happen.
“We want boys to experience the laity. Try dating; get a job,” he said. “If they don’t experience this we are risking them falling into sin later. We need to make priests out of men, not boys.”
The Diocese of Charleston also conducts discernment weekends in which men and women spend three days praying about giving themselves to God.
“They may come out saying ‘I’m not called,’” said Deacon Cahill. “That is okay. This is not a pressure game.”
Father Zimmerman hopes to hold another panel discussion in the near future. For more information contact the church office at (843) 556-0801.