I am blessed to benefit from many good homilists at Sunday Mass. In preparation for Lent, one of those homilists pointed out that, as much as we must be particular in the confession of our sins in this life, when we encounter Christ at our final judgement, He won’t be running a finger down our ledger. The homilist noted that when we look into the face of our Creator, the issue will be: does He recognize us, do we recognize Him? Where there is recognition, there will be welcome, welcome into the kingdom of Christ. Perhaps with some time spent paying a price yet due, but with the knowledge of forthcoming glory. There will be recognition if we have loved our Lord in this life. We are able to love God, and do his Will (thereby increasing our love) because of our cooperation with the graces He gives us: sacramental and actual. So increasing our love of God and cooperation with grace should be uppermost in our minds when choosing our Lenten penances. When Katherine and I founded the Fund for Vocations, the economy of grace was not much on my mind. After 16 years of its operation, it is rarely not on my mind. This work of making vocations possible with which you assist through your financial sacrifices is a great engine for drawing graces into our world. My thanks are but poor words when compared to what you have made possible. I pray that God will reward you. May you have a blessed Lent.
Corey F. Huber
Like many cradle Catholics, Father Brent A. Bowen, O.P. is a “revert.” He says, “I grew up in a nominally Catholic family. As the years went by, we attended Mass less and less.” After eight years of Catholic elementary school, he entered public high school and drifted away from the faith.
Fr. Bowen’s lapse didn’t last long. In college, he began “asking a lot of big questions.” When a friend invited him to Mass, Fr. Bowen accepted – and realized the Church had the answers he was looking for. Two years later, at a retreat, he heard God calling him to become a priest. Not ready to make that commitment, Fr. Bowen began an MBA program.
God had other plans. One evening at adoration, Fr. Bowen heard the call again – very clearly. He left graduate school and began working to pay off his $110,000 student loan debt so he could enter religious formation. “After a year and a half, I was close, but not quite there. Fortunately, the Fund for Vocations awarded me a grant that enabled me to realize my vocation.”
Fr. Bowen joined the Dominicans. “The Order of Preachers’ charism is preaching for the salvation of souls. We have a strong intellectual tradition taken from one of our Order’s greatest saints, St. Thomas Aquinas. It’s a ‘mixed’ life between active ministry and contemplation. We contemplate and give the fruits of our contemplation to others in our preaching.”
Ordained in 2019, Fr. Bowen was assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center at Purdue University.
Campus ministry is dear to Fr. Bowen because he rediscovered his own faith as a student. “College students are at a unique point in life. They are trying to figure out how to be independent, form an identity, and ask big questions. They have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for evangelization, which makes my job easy. I find their biggest desire is to be mentored in following Jesus.”
Asked how the laity can foster vocations, Fr. Brent suggests, “Most who enter the priesthood or religious life do so because someone told them they would make a good priest or religious. Also, holy families beget holy priests.” He also encourages all of us to pray for an increase in vocations. Already, his order sees the fruits of these efforts. Six young men formally began the novitiate in Denver on August 8, the feast of St. Dominic.
Thank you for supporting the Fund for Vocations to ensure that more of these vocations, like Fr. Bowen’s, will be fully realized.
“Thanks be to God for another vocation fulfilled!”
Grant recipients pray daily for donors like you, for the Church, and for the world as they work to become priests, monks and brothers, and nuns and sisters. We are currently helping more than 100 men and women with financial need follow their vocations. The average student monthly loan payment for our grant recipients is $250. With additional funding, we can help another 100 equally qualified applicants. The Fund for Vocations makes the payments for these individuals as long as they remain in religious formation.
Each year, we must raise the amount necessary to honor the commitment to our existing grant recipients. Your support will provide more grants and bless more vocations! Please help us help them by making your tax-deductible contribution today. Use the enclosed reply or give online at: FundForVocations.org/donate.
A Unique Solution to a Common Problem
It seems we’ve had no end of problems this year. The COVID-19 virus brought confusion, anxiety, economic collapse, and civil unrest in its wake. In the midst of all this uncertainty, I started a new position as Executive Director of the Fund for Vocations. It’s been a challenge settling in and getting to know everybody when we’ve been social distancing!
God ultimately makes a way through all our difficulties. I strongly believe that’s because holy men and women pray for us in parishes, convents, and monasteries across our nation … and many are there thanks to your gifts to the Fund for Vocations.
Like millions of college graduates today, these faithful young people also had a problem: crippling student loan debt. In their case, it prevented them from entering religious formation. They applied to the Fund for grants and we assumed their monthly loan payments, freeing them to fulfill their vocations without delay.
What makes the Fund’s solution to this common problem so unique? Timing is everything.
First, we pay the debt slowly. Taking on monthly payments rather than settling the balance up front allows us to serve a greater number of grant recipients. It also supports healthy vocations by removing financial pressure to stay in community when God is calling them elsewhere. Should a grantee decide religious life is not for them, they simply resume their payments with no obligation to the Fund.
Second, we accelerate payoff at final vows. When a grant recipient professes their vows or receives the sacrament of Holy Orders, the Fund pays the balance of their loan in five years or less. Thanks be to God for another vocation fulfilled!
And thank you as well! Together, we ensure faithful, orthodox, and well-educated young men and women are serving our Church.
Whatever challenges you face in the months ahead, remember the holy men and women whose vocations you supported are praying for you every day!
Give Thanks by Giving: 2020 Deo Gratias Campaign
That last thing you expect to hear these days is, “We have too many vocations.” However, the Fund for Vocations is able to fund fewer than half the qualified candidates who ask us for help entering religious life. It’s heartbreaking to turn down an applicant – and we can’t afford to lose a single vocation.
The Deo Gratias campaign seeks to raise $350,000 by the end of this year to provide for more young men and women seeking to serve God. These funds will allow us to help EVERY qualified candidate who has been accepted into a religious community, but who is unable to enter because of their student loan debt. We will also be able to pay down the student loans of those grant recipients who have taken their final vows as fully professed priests, sister, and brothers.
We give thanks to God at all times, but meeting this goal will be a very special blessing at the end of a challenging year. To give, please contact Mary Radford, firstname.lastname@example.org, 877.556.6338 or give online at FundForVocations.org/Donate.