National Vocations Awareness Week

For National Vocations Awareness Week (NVAW) starting on Sunday 2 August and concluding on Sunday 9 August 2020, you’re invited to view a reflection by Sr Clare Conaglen.


Sr Clare Conaglen

My Dad was a doctor. As kids we learnt that we had to share him with many other people unknown to us. For Dad being a doctor was more than a profession or career, it was a vocation, a belief that God was calling him, and that God had given him the gifts necessary. [1] He was dedicated, he gave his life to it and even when he was sick himself for a nearly a year, his patients all returned to him knowing that he cared for them with compassion and genuine concern.  Mum was always the support and in turn lived out her vocation of spouse, mother and carer of the carer.

What do we mean by Christian vocation or call?  It is not that we are doctors or priests, construction workers, secretaries or religious. It is more a sense that God is intimately involved in our lives and calls us to participate in making our planet, with humans and non-humans alike, more just, caring and loving, building and participating in the reign of God here and now.

However not everyone wants to hear this message and violence, racism, greed, egocentrism and destruction of our planet continue. Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush when he says, “whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matt 10: 39). How Jesus uses the word worthy means more about ‘capable’, ‘ready’, ‘equal to.’  Am I worthy of, up to it, ready, capable of Jesus? None of us are capable by our own efforts. With the support of a spouse or of a community we can respond to Jesus’ challenge.

Jesus continues “Those who find their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 10:39). Am I prepared to lose my life for the sake of Jesus? Our world today says you must be self-realised, achieve your utmost, be someone, make your mark in the world.  Jesus asks us to be faithful, using our gifts and time for others, for our world. We will find meaning in our lives, we will have life.

My life as a Sister of St Joseph has led me into the classroom teaching mathematics and science in New Zealand and Samoa- such small islands in the Pacific with a culture rich in dignity and respect for each other.  The students there saw themselves as the centre of the world and lived into their dreams for education and a career, living their vocation.

My life has also taken me to Peru for 16 years working alongside some wonderful people in a parish on the edge of the Lima where people  come from the mountains and the jungle areas with their hopes and dreams to start a new life, a better education for their children and a better job. They carve out settlements on the dry and dusty hills of the desert in which surround Lima. Poverty abounds but a spirit of resilience also abounds.

Now I find myself on the Congregational leadership team in North Sydney which brings yet another set of challenges.  And underneath and through the activity and challenges there is a constant flowing stream -the call, that relationship of love with God that invites us on.  Are you up to the challenge?  Are you capable?   My Dad and Mum said “yes.” With the support of a community we can say ‘’yes.”

Sr Clare Conaglen

 

Footnote:
[1] Idea taken from Mary M McGlone, Scripture for Life Column, NCR, 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2020