Father James Dodson, former assistant director of vocations for the Diocese of Burlington, has been appointed now to serve as the director, succeeding Father Jon Schnobrich who has returned to parish ministry in Morrisville and Stowe.

Vermont Catholic Content Editor/Staff Reporter Cori Fugere Urban posed these questions to Father Dodson, newly appointed pastor of St. Louis/Nativity Parish in Swanton and Highgate Center. Here are his responses.

What is your greatest joy as a priest?

A great joy as a priest is helping a person see where God is at work in their life and how they are called by Him to respond generously to that “Divine movement” in truth and love.

What will be your three areas of focus as vocations director?

  1. Prayer
  2. Discernment
  3. Holiness

Prayer is absolutely essential to learning and fostering the vocation to which God is calling the person. In one’s personal prayer, most especially by listening to God speak in the intimate depths of the heart, the person comes to learn of God’s unparalleled love for him or her as His child. As this relationship with God continues to grow over time, the person learns to discern the movements, inspirations and promptings of God, which reveal the specific vocation to which He is calling that particular soul; and it is precisely in living out that vocation that the person loves and serves God and neighbor, is sustained in the peace and joy of Christ and moves along, with others, down the path of growing in holiness.

What is your goal as vocations director?

My goal as the director of vocations is to help create a greater understanding of what “vocation” is, how it is discerned and why it is important to both the individual person and the entire Body of Christ.

What challenges will you face as vocations director, and how will you address them?

Some of the challenges to be addressed are: a culture that is becoming ever-more secular; a breakdown of the family, and time spent together as a family; and a decreasing number of vocations. The challenges are many and cannot be remedied by one person alone. It is my goal to encourage people “to be present” in the present moment so that they may become aware of God doing something beautiful in their life — sometimes very profoundly and other times very subtly.

What is your advice for men considering a call to the priesthood?

For men thinking about a call to the priesthood, I would encourage them to talk to the priest in their parish about the fact that they are considering the priesthood. This first step seems quite simple, but can often be a nerve-wracking admission! I would also encourage the man to spend some time in personal prayer with God daily and enter the silence where God will speak to his heart. If the thoughts of priesthood persist, please contact the director of vocations!

How can people get more information about the priesthood in the Diocese of Burlington?

For those interested in receiving more information about priesthood and vocations in the Diocese of Burlington, visit: vermontcatholic.org/ministries-programs/vocations or contact Father James Dodson at 802-658-6110 ext. 1175.

—Originally published in the July 6 issue of The Inland See.