Discernment in the Time of COVID
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 15, 2020
DIOCESE—It is safe to say that in spite of COVID-19 restrictions, priestly discernment continues.
God, after all, doesn’t take vacations and continues to gently call the men he hopes will say “yes” to His dream for them as priests.
Father Kyle Manno, director of vocations for the Rockford Diocese, has not been able to schedule the usual gatherings, vocation camps and meals like before to provide opportunities for boys and men to visit with priests and seminarians. 
Do you know anyone who is thinking about giving his or her life to Jesus?
Encourage him or her to begin the discernment process with the help of the Vocations Office of the Rockford Diocese at 815-399-4300 or online at https://www.rockforddiocese.org/vocations/.
Or suggest he or she contact Father Kyle Manno, vocations director on his Facebook, YouTube or Twitter pages.
Basketball and volleyball games with middle school students, vocation talks in schools and even going to individual parishes to give talks are all on hold.
Father Manno calls this time “interesting,” saying he is continuing to try to figure out new ways to encourage discernment to the priesthood with safety in mind.
As pastor of Christ the Teacher Parish, home of the Newman Center at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, he has opportunities to connect with young men who have expressed some interest in the priesthood. Although big events are not happening, small groups for these men to discuss discernment can be held in public places.
The assistant directors of vocations — Fathers Robert Gonnella, Sean Grismer, John Kladar and John McNamara — are able to meet with mostly high school and college age young men who are near their locations.
“It’s a really good way to keep in touch,” Father Manno says, adding that it is “a huge grace” to have those assistants.
Social media has been another “huge grace,” he says.
Recently this Illinois vocations director received an email from a man in London thanking him for the videos he’s been creating and posting about discerning a call to the priesthood. 
Father Manno recommends the variety of information offered at rockfordpriest.org and says it is very non-intimidating for men to research a call to the priesthood online.
Father Manno recommends that those in discernment pray for a half hour each day beginning with simply speaking to God, continuing with reading Scripture and concluding with a time of listening in case God wishes to speak to them.
He notes that seminaries continue to offer “Come and See” weekends for men about what life is like for seminarians. Some of those visits are virtual, and some seminaries are conducting virtual interviews with potential seminarians.
Although the Rockford Diocese chooses seminaries for their seminarians, looking over any of them online provides a good idea of seminarian life, he says.
Father Manno continues to look to the future, perhaps even next spring when he hopes to again be able to provide middle school visits during Lent.
Efforts to plant those seeds for potential future vocations and nourish spiritual growth through discernment continue even as the Vocations Office waits to provide in person, post-COVID events.
Shop Religious items at HOLYART.COM