When I was 15 years old, my father died.
At the time, my heart was still trying to heal from his two-year absence from our family. (His return to us seven years before his death is a God story for another time). As a high school sophomore who hadn’t yet figured out what manhood really was, I’d been finding meaning in sports and video games.
But in the moment I stood before his casket, I was deeply shaken by the grief-stricken realization that this time, he is really gone.
And I was flooded with the hard questions: What is true? What really matters? What is life about?
In His great mercy and love, God—simultaneous to my questioning— gave me the answer. Sweeping over me was the sudden awareness that the only things that mattered were the eternal realities of God’s never-ending love, Christ’s redeeming work, and our ‘yes’ to Him. Everything else paled in comparison.
What a gift of grace.
Another gift was that the Lord did not leave me orphaned. He loved me through our Church community. In particular, He provided me with two priests whose guidance allowed me to experience loving fatherhood and authentic manhood. My youth group friends rallied around me, too, and I began to know what Christian fellowship felt like—something that would only deepen in my college years at Franciscan University.
So I am acutely and personally aware of the aching need in a man’s heart for accompaniment in his journey to Christ, over the often hard but always merciful path of God’s will.
For that reason, my work in the High Calling program for men discerning the priesthood has taken on a particular kind of urgency. I know how necessary it is that no one goes through life—much less discernment—alone.
When you give to the Avila Foundation, these men receive a gift not unlike the one God offered me so long ago: they receive the companionship of fellow discerners, the spiritual fatherhood of holy priests, and the knowledge that people like you care.
You care that they have solid formation and are taught to pray. You care that they know what it is to be in community. You care that they have the wisdom and guidance of gifted spiritual directors. You care about the priesthood, and you care about them as individuals.
You know that in order for a man to be able to make a radically generous gift of himself to others, he must first know he is loved.
Will you help us to continue to provide this kind of accompaniment, encouragement, and formation to the nearly 100 discerning men in our High Calling program? Your gift by the end of this calendar year helps us meet our goal of raising $300,000 by the end of the month, and will help us to continue to operate effectively and to plan for expected future growth.
But more fundamentally it helps heal masculine hearts—the very hearts that will lead us into a new age of the Church. These men are concrete signs of God’s promise that “I will be with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Will you support them today and help us reach our goal? Donate here: https://secure.spiritualdirection.com/cye2022
As we plan for how we can serve these discerners next year and beyond, each and every gift is invaluable. Please pray about how God might be asking you to share in the renewal of the Church through the renewal of manhood and fatherhood today.
These men matter. Your gift matters. Make a gift before our year-end deadline. https://secure.spiritualdirection.com/cye2022
In my own story which is an ongoing transformation in Christ, God continues to encourage and strengthen me through the witness of the men I serve and the generosity of people like you.
May you be blessed for being a witness to His love and His providence.
Joseph Hollcraft, PhD
Director, High Calling Program
Image courtesy of Unsplash.