Vocations Office to release follow-up of popular discernment video series

BRAINTREE -- Following the popularity of his online video series "Scivias," Father Michael Zimmerman will release a follow-up series in January 2022 to help viewers move from self-examination to decisive action in their process of vocation discernment.

Father Zimmerman, who is the assistant director of the archdiocese's Office of Vocations, wrote and produced "Scivias" as a guide for people discerning their vocation. The name of the series comes from the title of a work by St. Hildegard von Bingen, derived from the Latin phrase "Sci vias Domini," meaning "Know the Ways of the Lord."

"Scivias" consisted of 27 episodes, each three to five minutes long, released on a weekly basis from April to October 2021 on the Vocations Office's Facebook page and YouTube channel. A guidebook was also developed with reflection questions corresponding to each episode.

The series follows three themes: knowing the foundations of one's identity; understanding one's life as a sacrificial gift; and understanding the life and ministry of an ordained priest. This sequence allows viewers to consider more universal aspects of having a vocation before exploring the specific calling of the priesthood.

"Scivias" has grown in popularity, accumulating over 1,000 subscribers over the course of six months. The series has been picked up by various Catholic television networks and streaming platforms, including CatholicTV, Shalom World, Catholic Faith Network, and FORMED.

Father Zimmerman received a great deal of positive feedback from viewers, both young and old. People discerning their vocation received guidance from it, while priests ordained many years ago received affirmation.

These responses encouraged Father Zimmerman to write more content, shifting from the series' focus on "knowing" to the more actionable side of vocation discernment, "doing."

"I'm really happy with how 'Scivias' invites discerners to grow in a greater awareness of themselves and to grow in their relationship with God, but the series might give the impression that this is done only through prayer and reflection," Father Zimmerman said.

To balance this, a four-episode miniseries entitled "Scivias: Fiat Follow-Up" will be released in January 2022. Like "Scivias," the follow-up series will feature footage of iconic locations in the Boston area, grounding Father Zimmerman's stories and reflections in places familiar to people in the archdiocese.

Father Zimmerman said the follow-up series will remind people that discernment is "not only about 'knowing' the ways of the Lord, but also about 'doing' the Lord's will." He said that this approach draws on two different spiritual traditions, that of St. Ignatius and that of St. Dominic.

"In this way, we seek to balance Ignatian discernment with a little dose of Dominican. Ignatian discernment can be called subjective, as in discovering God's will for me specifically; Dominican discernment can be characterized as objective, simply perceiving the highest good and pursuing it," he said.

Regarding his hope for the upcoming videos, Father Zimmerman spoke of Mary's "fiat," when she accepted God's plan for her life.

"Mary's fiat was an immediate 'Yes' to God's will for her life without holding anything back. So often we can be paralyzed by excessive navel gazing; I hope these videos will be a reminder for participants to get up and go without hesitation and with similar courage!" he said.

The "Scivias" videos can be viewed on the Office of Vocations' YouTube channel (Vocations Boston) and Facebook page (@VocationsBoston). There is also a signup form available at the Vocations Office website, vocationsboston.org, to receive early access to new videos and additional content, such as guides to prayer and reflection.