I remember when I became aware of God’s call to me to be a religious missionary. I was a boarder at Milambo Secondary School, Tabora, Tanzania. Students did evening prayer together and listened to the word of God. One of us would read, having been asked in advance to prepare and share the word of God. I enjoyed how we inspired each other during the sharing especially with vocation stories. For some it was a first time to hear about priestly vocation with the Holy Ghost missionaries, Franciscans, Passionists or Missionaries of Africa while others came from those congregations’ minor seminaries.
I remember also learning different liturgical songs. One that touched me most was the Holy Spirit song which starts, “May the Spirit of the Lord from heavens come down. Amen…”This was a remarkable moment in my life as I opened up to the call of God. I really felt the willingness to serve God as a future missionary. This was thereafter fulfilled when I met a Spiritan priest, who was a vocational director and who eventually explained to me what it means to be a religious priest and missionary.
Again Philip (Acts 8: 26-40) teaches us that the Word of God (the Good News) is preached through word of mouth and passed by hearing it proclaimed by somebody else. It happened when he was told by an angel to go towards the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. He met with an Ethiopian, a eunuch, who was a minister of Candace in charge of the queen’s treasure. He had come to Jerusalem for worship and on his way back, seated in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah 47-53. But he had no idea whatsoever about what was written. So Philip joined him in his chariot and he started to explain to him about the scriptures and the Good News of Jesus Christ. Eventually he understood the word of God and was baptized by Philip.
Today we talk about a vocation journey. One tells his or her own story of vocation. How did it happen? Who inspired them? What was the vocation journey like? In terms of a formation journey and eventually commitments: religious profession or priestly ordination. It is therefore those who ‘have walked the walk’ who can ‘talk the talk. Those who celebrate anniversaries – silver or golden jubilees –can witness to others such a call to a special vocation.