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Q & A with Father Anthony



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Should I join an order in Africa or Europe or America?

Diane asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

I have passed the stage of questioning God and myself about the validity of my feelings, I know that I have a vocation. I was called when I was 16 but I made sure I did everything to make it "go away". Now that I am in my late 30's and have been a widow for 14 years, and feeling that my life didn't fit me, I returned to the Catholic Church. After having accepted that God has called me, I'm at peace with God, the world and myself. I completed the things I should have done during my years in a Convent school - First Confession, First Holy Communion achieved and Confirmation less than a week away, I don't know what to do next. My Priest is my greatest inspiration without any pressure, but I really don't know what to ask him. I have gathered so practical skills in the IT Industry to Mine Engineering. I know that I seek an opportunity to be working with my hands for God and missionary work seems to be asserting itself into my conscience. I was born in England but have lived in Africa all my life and I have seen and dealt with AIDS, cruel deaths, poverty and extremely unhygenic conditions without any fear - only a feeling that I need to immerse my hands in it and start to help. On the other hand, I know that Europe and America are short of vocations. Africa seems to be overflowing with vocations at the moment. Where do I go, do I take my experiences of Africa to countries that are short of people or do I stay here and help? Which Orders would be best for me to join. I am still praying for guidance which comes steadily.

Dear Diane,

Congratulations on the steps you have been taking and the generosity with which you want to give yourself to God. As you say, guidance has been coming to you steadily. While you should continue to offer yourself to God and cultivate your desire to follow him in a missionary vocation, at the same time you should not try to rush the process. There will have to be a time of maturing in your new, re-found faith as you explore where he might be calling you. I think the question you should ask your priest is this, which order of nuns does he think you might be best suited for. Then you should go visit them and in that way give God a chance to speak more directly to you.

As regards where you should serve, whether you should join a congregation in Africa where vocations are more abundant or not, what you say about vocations being scarcer in England and America is true. However, unless you have a particular congregation of nuns in mind I do not think it would be very practical for you to travel to either of those countries to enter a congregation. This is just my personal thought. I know that there are some African congregations that are beginning to send missionaries to America, so perhaps you could inquire where you are, and join one that does. That way when you join you will be able to volunteer to go overseas but at the same time leave it in God's hands if he will actually send you or not.

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