This is a beautiful time of year.

It is Confirmation season and I havernthe joy to be celebrating this sacrament with young people in parishesrnthroughout the archdiocese.

In my monthly television and radiornshow, “Dialogo de Fe,” I had the opportunity to speak with three religiousrnsisters about their lives and their vocations.

One of them, Sister Micaela Ramirez,rnof the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart, said that growing up in HuntingtonrnBeach, she had plans to be a wife and a mother of a big family and to teachrnbiology and maybe write songs and ride a motorcycle.

Her parents, she said, were a beautifulrnwitness to her of the Gospel. On a retreat, she said, she had a profoundrnexperience of God’s love for her and she heard the call of Jesus in her heart,rnsaying, “I want you to belong completely to me.”

It is a beautiful testimony, and Irnhave been thinking a lot about how our lives are a response to the call of God.

This is true for everyone — whetherrnwe are aware of it or not. 

This is one of the mysteries of creation.rnGod wants us to be here. We would not exist if God did not call us intornexistence.

In the beginning, God called all ofrncreation into being: “Let there be …” 

And he calls each of us by name. Thernwords he spoke through the prophet Isaiah, he speaks to each of us: “Fear not,rnfor I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine.”

So, every life is a calling, arnvocation. Your life and my life are a response to the calling of God that wernhear.

This Sunday, April 22, the fourthrnSunday of Easter, is known as Good Shepherd Sunday because in the Gospelrnreading for this Sunday we reflect on Jesus’ description of himself and hisrnmission.

He says: “I am the good shepherd, andrnI know mine and mine know me. … I have other sheep that do not belong to thisrnfold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice.”

For the past 55 years, the Church hasrnused this Sunday to pray that more will hear his voice and follow him inrnbecoming priests, deacons and religious and consecrated men and women.

As we join the universal Church inrnthis World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I am also praying for the upcomingrnSynod of Bishops on the topic of “Young People, the Faith and VocationalrnDiscernment.”

Jesus calls to every heart. The challengernis to be able to hear this call. The world can be a noisy place and our livesrnare filled with responsibilities and anxieties that can keep us from hearingrnhis voice. 

The call of Jesus is a call to followrnhim and to understand our lives in the light of his life. The document that thernworld’s bishops are using to prepare for the upcoming synod,rnspeaks of our “vocational call” as part of “God’s plan of profound love forrneach person.”

What that means is that God invitesrneach of us to respond to his call in our own unique way.

Your life belongs to Jesus and sorndoes mine. But because our lives are different, the way we are called to followrnChrist will be different, too.

There are many paths, many callings.rnBut the call of Jesus is always a call to share in his mission. He is sendingrnall of us out into the world. Most of us, he sends to serve him in the worldsrnof work and family, the worlds of culture and civic duty.

But some are chosen by Jesus for arnspecial calling, to follow him in one of the many forms of religious andrnconsecrated life in the Church.

Pope Francis says in his message forrnthis year’s day of prayer, “Our life and our presence in this world are thernfruit of a divine vocation!”

So, we have to listen for the voicernof Christ and we have to respond to his call with all our hearts and all ourrnstrength.

And each one of us in the Church hasrna responsibility to “create the space” where our young people can listen forrnChrist’s voice, too.

This is one of the most importantrnmissions in the Church right now. Already, we have many fine young men in ourrnseminary and many more discerning a vocation to the priesthood.

I encourage all of you to visit andrnshare our two vocations websites — for men and forrnwomen.

Together, we need to build a culturernof vocations!

So, pray for me this week and I willrnbe praying for you. And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us to buildrna culture of vocations — so that many more young men and women can feel thernlove of God and answer his call in their lives.

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