Ignite: Discerning a closer walk with the Lord
Who am I? What is God’s mission/vocation for me in life?
Questions like these are delved into weekly with high school juniors and seniors involved in Ignite, a discernment formation program through the Archdiocese of New Orleans Vocations Office and Dumb Ox Productions.
“These are questions we all ask each other in one form or another, and we try to give them the answers to these questions,” said Adam Fuselier of Dumb Ox Productions, who facilitates Ignite.
“Each of us has been created by God for a purpose,” he said, and the closer individuals are in their relationship with God, the easier the answers to these questions are.
The free program began in the archdiocese last fall and is structured over two semesters. The first explores God’s creation of male and female, starting with Adam and Eve and Theology of the Body to emphasize the meaning of love, sexuality and how men are meant to love. The second semester centers on spiritual formation and how young adults can strengthen their relationship with God through prayer and discernment.
Fuselier invites guest speakers – who could be seminarians, other young adults or even fathers – to share their experiences on a particular topic. All are available as mentors, if Ignite members desire to talk one-on-one with someone outside of the weekly sessions.
Teens full of questions
“What we will be doing this semester is growing,” Fuselier told a dozen teens who gathered Jan. 14 at the Vianney House on Notre Dame Seminary campus. “We are going to learn to pray on Scripture and let him speak with us.”
Fuselier told the young adults how he understands as males that they want to leave their mark in the world. But instead of trying to achieve the skewed criteria that society has created for success, worth and love, why not turn to God for help? The answer to what God wants for each person and what that person wants for himself can intersect if each person hears God’s voice.
“If we rely on God and allow him to love us the way we need to love, he will give us the strength to do it, and he will do it for us,” Fuselier said.
One teen mentioned how, sometimes, he doesn’t feel like he is talking to anyone when he prays.
Maybe, the right questions aren’t being asked, Fuselier answered, or maybe there are too many distractions such as doing homework, listening to music and interacting on the Internet at the same time. He advised to say to God, “Lord, I just want to be with you and have a desire and encounter with you.”
Fuselier suggested a take on love that involved loving like God, who loves unconditionally, in the good and bad, without expecting anything in return. He said men shouldn’t fear getting closer to God, thinking they might be asked to do something they aren’t sure they want to do.
“Vocation is a call to love and be loved by God,” Fuselier said. “As God calls us closer, we are freer to love without expectations.”
Dialogue on teen struggles
Father Steve Bruno, archdiocesan vocations director, has been pleased with the dozen or so young men who attend weekly sessions. Ignite has opened a dialogue about the struggles of being a young Christian man in today’s society and their call to vocation, whatever it might be.
“It has sparked so much discussion about things they don’t hear from school, parents or culture all the time: what church teaches about sexuality, what sex is for, our call as a man and as husband and father,” Father Bruno said. “Our ultimate call is to go to heaven, and that sparks a lot of fundamental catechism questions that we needed to discuss with them – What is heaven? What does it mean to be here?
“I think Ignite will lead them to whatever vocation they have – to marriage, to religious life or whatever. Because of this – talking about the heart, identity and mission of what being a man is – I think they aren’t dismissing life in the priesthood as maybe they would have before.”
Archbishop Rummel junior Joel Milano has enjoyed the discussions about respect for others and how to treat women in today’s society by learning what God teaches us about creation, love and sexuality.
“Coming here, you get stronger in your faith, like boys becoming men,” Milano said. “I can definitely see becoming stronger in my faith by learning the background of our faith.”
Attendee Brother Martin junior Ron Boudreaux is considering the priesthood and returned for Ignite’s second semester.
“It’s deepened my understanding of the nature of God and humanity and how we’re meant to be intimate as a union by design,” he said.
Those interested in further discerning the priesthood are invited to move into Vianney for Men once they complete Ignite.
“God willing, by the end of the program, the men are freer and are able to discern (their vocation) more fully and have a deeper relationship with the Lord, learn who they are, who God is and their relationship to him,” Fuselier said.