Vocational Discernment

This month we focus on Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life. To this end, our vocations team have prepared various inputs which have, and will be, posted on our Facebook page throughout the month of April.

The following article, from the most recent edition of the Archdiocesan News, speaks about vocational discernment. It is worth a read!

The term Vocation has its roots in Latin, from the word vocare which means to call or to invoke. This call begins with baptism in the Catholic faith. As Catholics, we have two vocations, firstly a common vocation that we are all called to. Secondly, we have a unique vocation which is specific to each one of us. Firstly this shared vocation, which all of the followers of Christ share, is a call to holiness and to spread the Gospel through evangelisation.

Secondly, each individual is called uniquely and each person responds to that call differently. Some are called to serve in the ministerial priesthood, others embrace religious life while the laity are called to encounter God in their everyday lives, whether married or celibate.

Another important word not to be overlooked when talking about a vocation is discernment. Discernment, similar to vocation, originates from the Latin word Discernere which means to perceive or to distinguish. The discernment of a vocation is a process of perceiving and distinguishing one’s calling. It is like exploring one’s deepest desires implanted in one’s heart by God. Our strengths and interests can be viewed as gifts from God which constitute the deepest desire planted in one’s heart. Discernment looks at how God has called and shaped one and eliminates worldly distractions which derail one’s journey to discovering one’s vocation while focusing on one’s God-given gifts.

An important thing to bear in mind is that there is no such thing as a good or bad vocation. At the beginning of my journey to the priesthood, a journey which I am still currently on, I had to go to discernment classes. The priest who was conducting the workshop was the vocations director. He mentioned something that to this day I cannot forget. He said, “That all vocations are good on their own.” So it is not the case of choosing which vocation is good and which one is bad, but rather of discovering among the various good vocations which vocation is better for you.

In my personal experience, the journey of discovering one’s vocation is never wasted even if one discovers later that the vocation one has chosen is not the vocation one is called to. In a situation like that, although one has followed a particular path not in alignment with that seed planted deep inside one’s heart, one discovers what truly lies dormant and comes out with a better understanding and a clear picture of what God is calling one to do.
Another thing I should not neglect to mention is that my journey began out of curiosity. I just wanted to see what was happening in the seminary, as I heard many of the elders in my parish community speak about the need for priests and encouraged me to give it a go. I decided to give in after a while and began my journey.

Fast forward a few years and I am still here. I know many of my classmates who did the same, some are here while others discovered that their calling was slightly different than what they initially thought. Although I had the desire at a young age to be like my first parish priest, I did not fully realise this desire at the time I entered the seminary. When I realised it, I discovered that regardless of what my vocation was, going to the seminary was the correct decision. I felt that regardless of what my vocation was I would discover it by the end of the year. It is only then that one can decide on whether to continue or to leave if one’s vocation is elsewhere.

I grew exponentially in the space of a year which was a result of prayer, meditation and reflection. It felt like I lived 10 years in one year because the way I thought and my view on life changed drastically. By following the seminary programme, one not only learns about various prayer methods and mediation styles, but one discovers the deepest desire planted in one’s heart by God. In my experience, it is the only place where one can slow down, be silent without distractions, and be with God.

Brett Young
4th Year Theology

Posted in Archdiocesan News.


  1. Could discernment for Vocations to the Consecrated Life as spelt out by Canon Law 604 be included in all future programmes please.

    There are over 3000 members in the “Ordo Virginum” worldwide and less than 2 members in the Western Cape alone.
    This vocation is always being confused with the “Anawim” and no efforts are made
    to even try to understand this vocation.

  2. That is an interesting message on discernment. I am a religious male doing my philosophy at a certain university hear in the Caribbean. I am still discerning my vocation to become a priest. My question is, how can you help someone to get or be admitted to any disease where priests are needed? If you can, please we can have a conversation on how i can began my journey

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