PALM BEACH GARDENS | In my short time as vocations director, I have come to realize that there is a plethora of things that can be done in the area of promoting vocations.
One can travel to various groups to give talks about vocations and discernment such as youth groups, young adult groups, Catholic schools, homeschool groups, faith formation groups; or host different events, both online and in-person, where others can come to learn about different vocations in the life of the Church. One can also host discernment groups, where young men and women can learn more about the priesthood and religious life and enter into fruitful discussions about it. In all of this, I continue to be convinced that the most important thing that an Office of Vocations can do is provide space and time for men and women to be able to listen more deeply to the voice of the Lord; He who is the one who calls them.
For this reason, the Office of Vocations and Seminarians of the Diocese of Palm Beach hosted its first-ever Advent Discernment Retreat, Dec. 11-13, 2020, at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary. The retreat was hosted by me, Consuelo Minutoli, administrative assistant of the Office of Vocations and Seminarians, and the eight seminarians of our diocese. The seminarians of St. Vincent de Paul stayed home after the Thanksgiving break and finished their semester online. This allowed us the freedom to make use of the seminary for this event. We are grateful to Father Alfredo Hernandez, rector and president of the seminary, and seminary staff for allowing us this great opportunity.
We were blessed to host 11 men throughout the weekend. Thanks to a generous benefactor, we were able to have all the men tested for COVID-19 prior to their arrival at the seminary. These 11 men arrived with open hearts and an eagerness to enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord, so as to discover His plan for them. These men hailed from all corners of our diocese: from as far north as Fellsmere, to as far south as Boca Raton. It was a beauty to see how, within our entire diocese, there are men open and willing to respond to the Father’s call.
Throughout the weekend the men had many opportunities to deepen their relationship with God, our Lady, and the saints; to learn more about priestly discernment; and to spend time in community with seminarians and others discerning the priesthood of Jesus Christ. There were talks given by some of the seminary priests and a religious sister on various topics: prayer and discernment, St. Joseph and masculine spirituality, and the heart of the priesthood. Some of the seminarians shared their testimonies about how they heard the call and are responding to it. There were also varied liturgical and prayer opportunities for the men to engage in: Mass, liturgy of the hours, confession, eucharistic holy hours, the rosary, and more.
More than anything, we truly believe that what we were able to provide these men the space and time to be in the presence of God, so as to be able to hear His voice more clearly. By the end of the weekend, several of the men shared a similar experience: “Waking up at the seminary each day, I felt refreshed; I felt like I was home.”
This retreat was limited to men over 18 years old. It is my hope that, in the future, we will be able to provide such opportunities for men in high school, as well as women discerning religious life. Please continue to pray for us as we continue to seek ways (new and old) to provide men and women in our diocese the space and time to listen ever more attentively to the Father’s voice.
Father Daniel Daza-Jaller serves as director of vocations for the Diocese of Palm Beach. To learn more about the Office of Vocations, visit diocesepb.org/vocations or contact Consuelo Minutoli, administrative assistant, at 561-775-9552 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Office of Vocations on Facebook @PBVocations.