Vocations Director Fr. John Henderson’s theme is “You are the One.”
Vocations Director Fr. John Henderson’s theme is “You are the One.”
You are the one.

That’s the slogan the Archdiocese of Portland’s new vocations director uses to help Catholics discern their calling, whether it’s marriage or a single lifestyle, or religious life, the diaconate or priesthood.

Father John Henderson has been leading baptized people to find their calling in his new role in the vocations office since he was assigned to the position last summer.  He oversees the 52 diocesan seminarians stationed at Mount Angel Seminary, a handful of other schools, and in local churches. He also promotes vocations in the parishes, recruiting men to the priesthood.  

On his “To Do” list lately has been preparation of the Archbishop’s Retreat, “On the Priestly Vocation,” slated for Jan. 27-29, at the Our Lady of Peace Retreat House. Father Henderson assists Archbishop John Vlazny lead a weekend retreat for men who would like a chance to reflect on the possibility of priesthood.

On a recent day, Father Henderson was infused with excitement after a Eugene parish called to let him know that they plan to start a vocations committee. That is Father Henderson’s hope for every parish in the archdiocese, to create a smaller ministry of people who build personal relationships with those who feel that inkling of a call.

There are some parishes, like St. Cecilia in Beaverton, and St. Pius X and All Saints in Portland, that already have very active committees in place. When a new parish expresses interest, Father Henderson directs them to one of these “model” committees.

St. Cecilia’s vocation committee’s mission is “to affirm and foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and encourage support for the priests and religious who now serve, or have served in the past.”

Regina Dibb, chairwoman of the committee, said they believe in the power of prayer. Since she joined the group five years ago, the parish has been blessed with one sister, two seminarians and one deacon.

“God has a plan for us, and we are happier if we follow his plan,” Dibb said.

To help with vocations communications, Father Henderson is also working to beef up the archdiocese vocation office’s website, www.archdpdxvocations.org.  He hopes to create subpages for each of the different religious communities in the archdiocese, something they can use in turn to help educate on their lifestyle and charism. This site will be updated with news, and also little tidbits for parishes to publish in their bulletins. Readers can get information on upcoming vocations events, like Quo Vadis Days in June, a camp for young Catholic men, and Project Andrew Dinners, where the archbishop and priest share their vocation stories with those who are curious about entering the priesthood.

Though these technological tools are great, Father Henderson knows it’s still those one-on-one relationships that really promote vocations.

“People are interested in real-life experiences to help them discern where God wants them to be,” the priest said.