About twelve months ago I moved out of Canali House. Canali House is a house set up in the Archdiocese of Brisbane for men to discern priesthood. The best way I can explain it is by saying it provides men with the time and space to look further into priesthood while still continuing their work or study.
I lived in the house for three months, two years after leaving the seminary. Discernment wasn't new to me. I had many motivations for moving in, but the main motivation was, after having left the seminary, am I meant to go back or do I shut the door on priesthood?
It was my full intention to live in the house for a year, but after three months I discerned it was time to move on. I was prompted by a strong gut feeling, which developed into reasonings which prompted me to have some challenging conversations with my mentors and trusted friends. All this lead to the realisation in myself that God had a different pathway for me.
Despite leaving the house, I continued in my role with Vocations Brisbane. I moved into a share house with good friends and I embarked upon a new chapter of my life.
Discerning God's call in our lives doesn't always lead to a "yes". Sometimes discernment proves to us we're not called to particular state of life or ministry; and it takes great humility to accept that. But discernment always starts with a "yes".
I think sometimes we complicate the discernment process. We can make it all about "me" or we can make it all about God, thus rendering ourselves as too poor and lowly to ever serve God. Discernment is about saying "yes". God says "yes" first: yes I love you and I call you to serve me and the church. We respond with our "yes": yes I believe in you and I'll seek your calling on my life.
I know from experience how easy it can be to feel ashamed, guilty or unworthy. That happens when we lose sight of what discernment is about. That happens when we get locked into our own plans. That happens when we stop saying "yes".
Twelve months later I look back on my "yes" to join Canali House. Even though it lead to a "no" to priesthood, it has freed me up to embrace my calling to work in vocations ministry. It equipped me with experience and skills to do the work I do. It also deepened my relationship with God and strengthened my hope in that relationship.
Vocation is about being generous in our service of God, the church and the world. Discerning that vocation isn't always easy. As I write this it's Easter Sunday, a day in which we celebrate joyfully the Resurrection. But you don't get to the Resurrection without first experiencing the Cross or the Tomb. When we say "yes" we might have to face "crucifixions" and ""tombs", but God resurrects.
We are an "Easter people". That means we have hope: hope in God's "yes" to us; and hope that our "yes" will transform our own lives and the world we live in.