In the late winter of 2020, I received a phone call from Stephanie Burke inviting me to become the next Director of the High Calling Program.

While we discussed many topics about the Program, at one point, she paused and said, “Joe, I was just walking up the stairs in my house, minding my own business, and the Holy Spirit whispered in my heart, ‘Joe, High Calling.’”

Those words caught my attention.

I mean, how do they not? But I found myself hesitant to engage in the call fully because my interest was elsewhere at the time. Two weeks prior, I had interviewed for an open university position as a professor, and an offer was on the table.

The night of Stephanie’s call, I went to the Blessed Sacrament to pray. Before the Lord, I pondered the University’s offer, asking the Lord for guidance.

As I prayed on the two goods before me, it was now the Holy Spirit whispering into my heart: “Joe, High Calling.” Upon returning home, I talked things over with my wife – we decided to pray a novena for clarity and direction. And as all good things come in threes, at the conclusion of the novena, Jackie heard in her heart, “Joe, High Calling.”

Soon after, I reached out to Dan and Stephanie Burke to accept their offer to become the next Director of the High Calling Program. Providentially, a few hours after I took the position, the University let me know their offer was now in doubt due to COVID. It was clear that God’s generous hand had moved in my discernment, removing all doubt, and this was my consolation, my joy!

My friends, the joy I experienced that day foreshadows the many joys I have come to experience in the High Calling Program. The treasure of seeing young men open their hearts more fully to the priesthood is one of the great joys of my job.

The world may emphasize the vocation crisis, and for a good reason—the numbers do not look good — BUT I have a front-row seat to hope, the hope that is born from watching men give their radical yes to a higher calling.

And so I want to invite you to the next Avila Foundation webinar, “Vocation Crisis: A Turning Point?” where I will share in my hope and joy as Dan Burke and Fr. Michael Niemzcak (Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe) join me to discuss the current state of vocations to the priesthood, how the Church can turn the tide, and the role the High Calling Program plays in sharing in the mission of the Church.

Join us on September 15 at 7 PM Central for a conversation you won’t want to miss. As always, we’ll share the recording with those who can’t make it live. But you’ll need to register!

Join the guest list here:

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