Seminary rector says vocations are no longer in crisis mode

BATESBURG-LEESVILLE—Msgr. Michael Olson has a simple suggestion to anyone searching for their true vocation in life: If you’re wondering what God is calling you to do, open your heart and listen.
Men considering the priesthood or anyone considering any other calling must be receptive to responding to God and growing through holiness, he said.
It’s a concept he deals with daily in his work as rector of Holy Trinity Seminary, one of two Texas seminaries that train priests for the Diocese of Charleston.
“The call to a vocation is the call to become the person you are, your true self, the person God created you to be,” Msgr. Olson said in an interview with The Miscellany.
“Sometimes we think that in order to have a vocation, to find holiness, we have to be somebody we’re not,” he said. “The false self is the person we think we have to show others. We’ve been created to be children of God. All of our life is spent trying to be who we really are, unique in our own dignity.”
The priest was in South Carolina recently to speak to young men at a high school discernment retreat held Feb. 10-12 at Camp Kinard. Sponsored by the Office of Vocations, the event was part of an ongoing effort to promote interest in vocations among young people.
He believes that the future holds promise for vocations in the U.S.
“The challenges of the past 10 years have really rallied the faithful … they love their priests and want to care for them, and they feel a responsibility to nurture vocations,” Msgr. Olson said. “We no longer speak of vocations in terms of crisis, but as a matter of faith. Vocations come from God.”
He said people could learn how to discover their true selves and God’s will for them by filling their lives with prayer, gratitude and service to others. Sin and selfishness can obscure the voice of God.
“We’re baptized in order to be inconvenienced for the sake of other people,” Msgr. Olson said. “People are not problems. Without gratitude and a sense of service, we run the risk of treating others people as our problems, and not brothers and sisters in Christ … we find ourselves by giving ourselves away.”
Focusing on others instead of selfish desires, or the false desires born from secularism, can help people of faith discover more about what they really want from life and to be more open to accepting God’s call, he said.
Time for silent prayer and thought is especially important for discernment, but it’s hard for anyone, especially young people, to find it in today’s technology-packed, hectic world. Msgr. Olson encouraged the students to attend adoration of the Blessed Sacrament regularly and spend 10 minutes a day reading Scripture.
“Their lives are so busy they can lose sight of the simple truths that God reveals in the midst of complicated details,” he said. “But I can also sense this generation very much wants to be part of a solution to the problems in the world today. That’s very hopeful.”
Students who attended the retreat said the discussion and prayer helped them focus more clearly on the different life choices they have.
“It was a really mind-opening experience,” said Josh Roberts, 15, of Columbia. “All the things we did, including time for personal prayer, helped me open my mind up to what God is telling me to do. I had a big God moment, and I learned that listening to God is important because he knows what’s best for your future.”