By: Jay Toups
Lafayette, Louisiana

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of our dedication to magnifying the Lord through pilgrimages and missions is what happens after the pilgrims or missionaries return. Often, journeys bear fruit through vocations, increased participation in parishes, greater works of charity or the formation of new organizations serving those in need. This post is part of a series on the fruits of pilgrimage.

Something amazing is happening in Lafayette, Louisiana. Our area is seeing a growing wave of male and female vocations. Today, we have 42 seminarians, of which many people in the diocese are aware. What many don’t know is there is a ground swell of young ladies answering the call to religious life.

My family and I became aware of this “groundswell” when our daughter Caroline, now Marie Jardin Clos, revealed to us in early October of 2017 that she believed she was being called to religious life. We were surprised, cautious and overjoyed all in one gush of emotions. Within days, the Holy Spirit began working overtime in our family. It became apparent that this call was not our daughter’s alone but one for the entire family. Marie Jardin Clos and three other Ragin Cajun Catholics from University of Louisiana at Lafayette were invested in their Holy Habits with the religious community Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará on Nov. 30, 2018.

The grace that has flowed from her unconditional “yes” causes us to pause each time we contemplate His work. We have been blessed to bear witness to a holy joy that radiates from these ladies who have taken a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience.

What we did not expect was to gain a new “vocations” family. Our family has expanded through the adoption of other families—from all walks of life—who also have a child in religious life. In addition, there are the many sisters who now call me “Dad.”

I would like to close with a few thoughts:
• Give your child willingly for Christ no matter what their vocation. God will fill with joy any void you may feel.
• Pray for vocations each day. Our Church needs strong holy men and women to lead and work in the vineyards.
• Pray for those who are answering the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit.
God is good.