Contrasting Geocaching and Catholic Vocation Discernment

Paul Keggington

January 31, 2013

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity serving at St. Mary Parish, Winneconne, WI,  St. Mary Parish, Omro and St. Raphael Parish, Oshkosh, WI enjoy geocaching. They invite your participation in drawing a comparison of this treasure-seeking past time (a trendy Mt 13:44) and discerning one’s call to a particular way of serving others within the Catholic Church. We begin first with a definition of terms.

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices. Players navigate to a specific set of GPS latitude and longitude coordinates to find a geocache (container) hidden at that location.

How do you go about geocaching?

Most people begin by registering on an official geocaching website. Eventually a choice is made from a list of possible destinations e.g. World War II Veteran’s Memorial, Oshkosh, Just Hanging in there, Oshkosh, WI, Picky St. Nicky in the Park, Oshkosh, WI.

Next, the latitude and longitude coordinates of a specific geocache’s destination are entered into a GPS Device. The GPS device assists in finding a hidden container which has a log in paper asking for a name and date. If you take something from the container one is expected to leave something of equal or better value for others who are also seeking the treasure e.g. Franciscan Sisters make this a new evangelization moment to leave medals or pens with the local parish’s information. The geocache is always returned to its original location.

Now, what is vocation discernment?

Vocational discernment is the process in which someone determines their God-given call to be married, single, religious or diocesan priest within the Catholic Church. It involves a process of spiritual growth that includes these particular points:  daily personal prayer, Eucharist, Sacrament of Reconciliation, attention to what one enjoys doing, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses and a healthy social life. Sincere listening to all that God desires and an openness to God’s grace are important to a life-long happiness.  The opportunity to share with significant people who know us well or a  spiritual director often are a source of support in adding greater confidence in deciding on a lifestyle call.

Vocation Discernment Retreats are often helpful for those open to a possible call to be a woman religious. (Click here to register for our February 22-24, 2013 Franciscan Vocation Discernment Retreat.)

What is similar in geocaching and discerning one’s vocation? How are they different?

Both in geocaching and in discerning one’s vocation one is looking for a real treasure. Each is an adventure.

On the other hand,  geocaching deals with a set of directions and a goal you can see e.g. an actual container, exact points of latitude and longitude.  When discerning a vocation, one  relates with a God who is seen only with the eyes of faith and a lifestyle that, although it deals with contemplating reality as it is in the here and now, will ever involve mystery.

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