Discerning Our Vocation

Sr. Susan Whitehead

Sr. Susan Whitehead

Our life of faith is always ongoing, growing and changing. Discerning our vocation in life is a journey in itself. This journey is unique to each individual – we will all have our particular valleys and mountaintops, our own signposts and places of rest and reflection. Sometimes we will get caught up in the chaos of traffic, while at other times we will feel like we have come to a standstill.

There will be forks in the road and choices to make about which direction to take. At some stages the view ahead will be clear and uplifting, while just around the corner we may need to ‘feel’ our way forward. My own journey of discernment certainly contained all these elements.

Another aspect of journeys is that they are all the more enjoyable and exciting when we have companions who travel with us. People who share the beauty and the difficulties of the journey and who inspire and motivate us to continue on towards our destination.

These companions can include parents, family, good friends and spiritual mentors. They may also include men and women who have travelled the road before us and inspire us by their lives of faith and love.

Three such companions for me were Alice Ingham our Foundress, St. Joseph and St. Francis of Assisi. The total commitment that St. Joseph showed and lived as foster father to Jesus, and husband to Mary. Francis’ passionate and joyful love of God and Alice Inghams Franciscan simplicity and apostolic zeal working for the poor, ignorant, sick and dying in the mill town of Rochdale. The radical living out of the Gospel of Jesus that these three unique people did drew me down a particular path; they helped shape and gave direction to my vocational journey.

Once my journey took on this particular shape I sought to listen to how God was speaking to me through prayer, through the direction of a ‘spiritual director’ and through the different events of my life. I came to know in my heart that God was calling me to the religious life.

Vocation is a call to a personal and intimate relationship with Christ, He is the guide, and He is the way. I chose to answer God’s call to a life as a Franciscan Missionary of St. Joseph but this radical choice continues to unfold each day of my life. My journey continues to unfold and each day God calls me to embrace it with faith, trusting that He will continue to direct and guide me on the way.



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