Exploring Life Narratives on Challenged Religious Vocation

A Phenomenological Study of One’s Discernment


  • Petervir A Paz Caraga State University




Religious calling, Discernment process, Apostolic work, Vocation


Vocation research has advocated that the current Catholic Church is facing issues regarding its decreasing numbers of religious missionaries, hindering their evangelical pursuits. The purpose of the study was to explore the reactive nature of differing approaches to targeted communities. The study applied a qualitative phenomenological method to the lived experiences of those involved. Three Christian brothers from the congregation of the Alliance of Two Hearts served as participants and engaged in face-to-face interviews. Findings revealed that six themes of discussion emerged from the interviews: calling as communication between God and religious brothers; the call of a religious vocation; resources for conversion efforts; discernment and nurturing in vocation; resilience in the face of troubled conversion; and the impact of vocation on the Christian lifestyle. Additionally, the recognition of one’s calling often involves a period of doubt or crisis of faith. To carry out missionary works, one must recognize the value of doubt in vocation, and how it may be utilized to strengthen one’s beliefs and efforts.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Petervir A Paz, Caraga State University

Petervir A. Paz is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Humanities at Caraga State University, Mindanao, Philippines. He obtained his PhD in Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, and specializes in environmental communication.


Anderson, Rob, and Veronica Ross. 2002. Questions of Communication: A Practical Introduction to Theory. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Ayee, Emmanuel S. A. 2012. Human Communication Revisited: A Biblical Perspective. Koers-Bulletin for Christian Scholarship 78(1): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.4102/koers.v78i1.549

Barth, Karl. 1963. Evangelical Theology. New York: Holt. Rinehart & Winston.

Buechner, Frederick. 1993. Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC. San Francisco: HarperCollins.

Calkins, Arthur B. 1985. The Theology of the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. https://www.piercedhearts.org/hearts_jesus_mary/theology_alliance_hearts_calkins.htm

Craig, Robert T. 1999. Communication Theory as a Field. Communication Theory 9(2): 119–61. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2885.1999.tb00355.x

Creswell, John W.1998. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among Five Traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Dawis, R. V. 1996. Vocational Psychology, Vocational Adjustment and the Workforce: Some Similar and Anticipated Consequences. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 2(2): 229–48. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-8971.2.2.229

Dik, Bryan J., and Ryan D. Duffy. 2007. Calling and Vocation at Work: Definitions and Prospects for Research and Practice. The Counselling Psychologist 37(3): 424–50. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000008316430

Eliade, Mircea (ed.). 1987. Vocation. In Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 15. New York: Macmillan.

Fox, Matthew. 1995. The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood for Our Time. New York: HarperCollins.

Gaunt, Thomas P., Mary L. Gautier, Mark M. Gray, Jonathan L. Wiggins and Charles E. Zech. 2017. Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century: The Challenges of Mobility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gomez, José H. 2016. Reflections on the Formation of Holy Priests and the New Evangelization of Culture. Origins 42(9): 3–18.

Habermas, Gary R. 1990. Dealing with Doubt. Chicago: Moody Press.

Hansen, David T. 1995. The Call to Teach. New York: Teachers College Press.

Kovan, Jessica T., and John M. Dirks. 2003. “Being Called Awake”: The Role of Transformative Learning in the Lives of Environmental Activists. Adult Education Quarterly Journal 53(2): 99–118. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741713602238906

Laverty, Susann M. 2003. Hermeneutic Phenomenology and Phenomenology: A Comparison of Historical and Methodological Considerations. International Journal Qualitative Methods 2(3): 1–29. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940690300200303

Littlejohn, Stephen W., and Karen A. Foss. 2009. Encyclopedia of Communication Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412959384

Moustakas, Clark. 1994. Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412995658

Neafsey, John P. 2004. The Psychological Dimensions of the Discernment of Vocation. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press.

Palacios, Santiago S., Thomas P. Gaunt and Mary L. Gautier. 2016. Special Report: Population Trends among Religious Institutes of Men. Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Georgetown University.

Palmer, Parker J. 2000. Let Your Life Speak. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Polkinghorne, Donald E. 2005. Language and Meaning: Data Collection in Qualitative Research. Journal of Counselling Psychology 52(2): 137–45. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0167.52.2.137

Quebral, Nora. 2002. Reflections on Development Communication: 25 Years After. Los Baños: College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines.

Saldaña, Johnny. 2009. The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Sullins, D. Paul. 1995. Keeping the Vow: The Untold Story of Married Catholic Priests. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Vatican. 1994. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Online: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM.

Wilson, Emily. 2014. Vocational Trauma. Emily Wilson Ministries. Online: http://emwilsonmusic.com/blog/2014/9/11/vocational-trauma.



How to Cite

Paz, P. A. (2022). Exploring Life Narratives on Challenged Religious Vocation: A Phenomenological Study of One’s Discernment. Fieldwork in Religion, 17(2), 124–144. https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.22617