For seminarian James deBeer of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, vocation is all about transformation.
After three years of priestly formation, James explains that he sees vocations not as something we're born into, but rather a process of transforming our lives into gifts to the Church and the world.
"This is our vocation: to give our lives as Christ did for the building of God's kingdom," he writes.
James's own vocation has been quite a journey.
Born in Winnipeg, he received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Winnipeg in 2002, and at one time even considered a career in sciences.
He did think about becoming a priest, but dismissed the idea. God would just have to choose someone more "qualified," he thought.
It was then that James was invited by his pastor to join a discernment group, led by a vocations director. And so his steps toward the priesthood began.
"I discovered in this group," James recalls, "that entering the seminary does not mean one's fate is sealed. One can think of it as being called to be a seminarian and sharing one's gifts as a seminarian until one is ready for the next step."
As a youngster, James had been an altar server, and was always encouraged by fellow parishioners.
"Some told me I'd make a good priest (which can be very embarrassing when you're a kid!), others simply made me feel like a welcomed part of the parish community," he remembers.
That sense of community continues to be important to James.
Reflecting on his vocation, he says, "The important thing in fostering vocations is gentle encouragement for everyone to live out their baptismal call to holiness. When one feels part of a community which loves and cares for them, one will have the courage to 'cast out into the deep waters' and explore God's call."