For five days, from July 15–20, 2019, 28 men attended an Ignatian retreat at Holy Angels Novitiate in Winona, Minnesota to consider the great question of their own state in life.
Anyone can choose to perform a good act, as long as there are no evident indications that God’s will is opposed to such an act. For some reason, however, although pursuing the priesthood and religious life is a good act, most Catholics seem to think that some mystical “discernment” process is necessary to determine if one is permitted to seek a state of consecrated life.
From the very first conference, those attending were asked to discard this notion of discernment and to rethink the whole question of vocation in terms of making a good choice. The Ignatian exercises are ideally suited to this, as St. Ignatius’s goal was to bring the retreatant to reform his life around the principle that “man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means save his soul.” Of course, such a change of life often includes the choice of a particular state, such as the priesthood or the religious life.
It was undoubtedly a week of many graces, and the retreatants were, in general, well-disposed to receive them, following the exercises diligently. There is great reason to hope that the retreat will bear much fruit, as many resolved to seek a state of consecrated life, and all went away enlightened and strengthened in the practice of their Catholic faith. Undoubtedly, these good resolutions still need to be put into execution, but the results give great promise for the future.
In light of such encouraging results, all the priests who preached the retreat are in agreement: the vocations retreat must become a regular event.