It Has to Happen in our Hearts

By: Vocations and All Things New

Fr. Brian Fallon was a fifth grader at Holy Infant School in Ballwin when he first thought about becoming a priest. Before the end of sixth grade, he felt God calling him. What made the difference in his life was not only the call itself, but the support he had in hearing it.

Young Brian was surrounded by people who listened to him, answered his questions, and supported him during his discernment. He talked endlessly with his parents, friends, teachers (including the Sisters of Mercy), coaches, youth ministers, scout leaders and priests at his parish.

“I really credit Holy Infant Parish and its loving, nurturing community for all the support I received over so many years,” says Fr. Fallon, who now serves as the Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. “I had so many people around me who affirmed me, challenged me, and prayed for me. That’s the ‘Culture of Vocations’ we keep hearing about, and it has made a huge difference in my vocation!”

Fr. Fallon sees All Things New as a way to optimize our resources to better serve the faithful, especially families, who are instrumental in supporting vocations – just like his own. New models built to support our future and current priests’ ministry, empower laity, and create more vibrant faith communities will help us revitalize parish life and strengthen our families. With this in mind, we can be more attentive to those on the path of discernment.

“When we use the resources God gave us to reach and teach people about Jesus, rather than using those resources to upkeep buildings and programs that are in decline, we can focus on helping people encounter Jesus in their parish communities. This will help people to become disciples of Jesus, and, along with their families, young people will find encouragement to follow the Lord’s call. If we’ve forgotten why we have parishes in the first place, to fall in love with Jesus and make disciples, it’s no wonder the number of vocations is dwindling.”

The Disciple Maker Index Survey taken in 2022 by more than 70,000 parishioners, in conjunction with All Things New, indicates that roughly 85% of those surveyed have never asked anyone to consider religious life. “We are responsible for cultivating an environment that is open and welcoming to our children and young adults if they feel the call to religious life. It has to happen in our families. It has to happen in our neighborhoods. And it has to happen in our hearts.”

Fr. Fallon knows this best because of the support he experienced in fifth grade. And he lives it now.

As we look forward in hope, let us pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in cultivating a “Culture of Vocations” throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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