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 | By Mary D. Dillard

Joy and Fulfillment

This issue, with its theme of vocations, is so dear to my heart, for I have been fortunate to have priests and religious present throughout my life, in good times and bad. One of my first childhood memories is of the late Sister Mary Alice Vose, M.S.B.T. My grandmother had befriended her, and she would come over to the house for visits. On one particular visit, she gave me a small Holy Infant of Prague statue, which became one of my favorite “toys.” In case you’re wondering, yes, I still have that statue!

In my teenage years, my pastor was Msgr. Paul Rohling, and while we never had him over for dinner, his priesthood played a major role in my faith journey. Benedictine Sisters Jane Bishop and Madeline Contorno also stand out in my memory. I am not the exception, however — in every corner of this wonderful diocese there are countless stories just like mine, only with different names.

Once he is ordained to the priesthood on June 11, one of those names will undoubtedly be that of Deacon Charles Deering, the subject of this issue’s cover story. To offer full disclosure, I am somewhat biased, as he is my cousin, but I am so thankful, almost to the point of giddiness, for his openness to God’s call. He has a heart on fire for the Lord, which I am certain will only build up the Body of Christ in the Diocese of Birmingham. He is truly a blessing!

Another person who can easily be labeled a blessing is also featured in this issue: Benedictine Sister Janet Marie Flemming. From her days in education to her work in parishes, she has infected those around her with the joy of living a life for Christ. She is a prime example of the happiness that is possible when one surrenders to God’s plan.

Discerning His plan is not any easy feat: it takes an open heart and a willingness to relinquish control. Both, however, are not the sole responsibility of the individual. We must all take part in encouraging others on their vocation journey, whether that be to the single life, the married life, the religious life, or the priesthood. The Lord is calling each one of us to where He wants us to be, and while each path will be different, if we get there, the end result will always be the same: joy and fulfillment.