Imagine this: A young man, excited about discerning marriage with a young woman, decides to approach it as a solo mission. Instead of whisking her away on dates and getting to know her and her family, he immerses himself in a sea of books and videos on marriage. Months go by in intense prayer sessions, agonizing over God’s will. Finally, one day, he declares, “I’m ready! The Lord is calling me to marriage!” He heads to the young lady’s house and gets down on one knee, only to realize—too late—he missed one crucial step: getting to know the young lady herself!
Discerning any vocation is a journey which happens in the midst of relationships, and the path to a diocesan priesthood is no exception. Priestly discernment unfolds in the relationships between the man discerning, the local Church, and the Lord Jesus, who calls men to himself “that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3:14).
The Archbishop’s Discernment Retreat is the perfect opportunity to take the next bold step in discerning a vocation to diocesan priesthood in the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon. Picture yourself in the company of the Lord Jesus, alongside other men hearing His call to the priesthood, and in the presence of Archbishop Sample, the head of our local Church. Dive into the reality of diocesan priesthood and seminary life through firsthand accounts from priests and seminarians. Listen to their vocation stories and engage in candid conversations with those who’ve answered the call and others still in the midst of discernment. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and enjoy silent moments before the Blessed Sacrament, tuning into the “still, small voice” of the Lord (cf. 1 Kings 19:12).
I attended this retreat myself in 2013 and 2014. As a convert with no Catholic relatives or friends considering the priesthood, meeting like-minded young men was reassuring. The Archbishop’s vocation story left me inspired. Above all, my quiet moments with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament on this retreat filled me with the graces of courage, detachment, and trust needed to take the next bold step: applying as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Portland.
To anyone seriously discerning the priesthood and considering attending this year’s retreat: Don’t hesitate—go. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. May the Lord, the Good Shepherd of the sheep, grant you clarity in your discernment, courage in responding, and perseverance in the everlasting way.
Fr. Matthew Knight