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How to write your vocation story for us

How to write your vocation story for us

If you are a Catholic woman and you feel you have a priestly vocation, we would be grateful if you were to write something of your story for the website.

John Wijngaards, who manages www.womenpriests.org has asked me, as a woman who is herself living with this sense of vocation, to take responsibility for co-ordinating this area. A great part of the website deals with the academic arguments, and rightly so. It is important, however, that a voice is given to those women who believe that the ordained ministry is the one God is calling them to in the present time.

I have been aware in my own life of how difficult it is, first of all to discern this calling, and then to go about making it known to others. That is why John and I have decided to include, alongside the testimonies, a section which will look at the realities involved in answering this call. We would like to be supportive to women who are in the position of feeling themselves called. Have a good look at the ‘vocation support’ documents in this section.

Why to write your story

It is important for people in the Church, both the leaders and the ordinary faithful, to become aware of the fact that so many Catholic women are called by God to the priesthood, as men are. How will the Church wake up, if we do not speak out?

From my own experience I know it is not easy to write about ourselves. I did not find it at all easy to write my story (see it here) because there is a sense in which it made me feel very exposed. It is impossible to know who will end up reading the story - my bishop, the Vatican Curia, old school friends, etc. etc! The potential audience who might dip in or stumble across it is potentially more varied than in a published book. Also, people tend to skim-read website material (I know I do this myself), so the story needs to be broken up and told in an eye-catching way.

I decided to put my full name to my testimony although I found this very scary. I have always tried, however, to be open about my vocation so this will not be news to most of the people who know me and I will have to trust to God to influence the hearts and minds of those who don’t to give me a fair hearing. John and I realise that for other people at this time it may be better to remain anonymous and this will be okay. No details will be given out to anyone apart from what you authorise us to put on the website. Personally, I feel the time has come when we need to speak out about what God has done in us and for us. If we let our fears about possible consequences rule us then nothing will change. As Soline Vatinel, the founder of BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the Irish campaign group for women’s ordination) said to me once, if the apostles had waited until it safe then they would never have gone out.

In asking for stories, we are looking for women who have recognised their sense of calling to ordained ministry for some time and who have already had opportunity to talk it through with people who are close to them, family and friends, and as far as this has been possible, other people in Church ministry, a priest, bishop, spiritual director or supportive network. It is important, first of all, that any woman who takes this step of publicly telling her story feels that she is well grounded in her own life and ministry.

Putting one’s story on the Internet is a big decision to make and it will be important to pray it through carefully before beginning to write.

Format for the Testimonies

We are asking if you would be willing to write between 1,000-2,000 words. Use short sections with interesting headings. John or I may have to edit material and would be happy to add these. We will send you a copy of what will finally be put on the web. At any future date you would be free to change, update or remove any material by contacting John or myself.

The following points to include are a guide to get you thinking. You don’t have to follow the questions exactly but do try and have a go at addressing the issues they raise:

Points to include:

1. Some biographical details

2. How did I get the idea to become a priest?

3. Why do I want to enter the ministry?

4. What difference will ordination make?

5. What is my vision of ministry? What vision of the future do I have for the Church in which I want to work?

6. What difficulties are involved for me personally and what am I doing about it?

7. Why do I think this is of God?

If, at this stage, you do not feel that it is right for you to write your story, but you are still interested in being in touch, that is absolutely fine. Feel free to write to me all the same. Your story can always be added at a later date if it becomes the case that you feel ready.

Please get in touch with the webmaster if you need any further information or you would like to talk about your story.

Colette Joyce

Overview Signs of a Vocation A woman's journey Steps to take Answering critics Writing your story
Six options for Catholic women who feel called to the priesthood?

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