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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki speaks on law and vocation

The “overarching vocation that we all share is to be a saint,” Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois stated during a lecture to Notre Dame law students Thursday afternoon in the Eck Hall of Law. 

Paprocki explored various topics including marriage, education, leadership and the connection between law, love and theology. Above all, Paprocki focused on the concept of vocation, urging individuals to ask, “What is God calling me to do with my life?” rather than focusing on personal desires. 

Paprocki was ordained to the priesthood at Saint Mary of the Lake Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1978. During his time in the seminary, Paprocki developed a strong interest in finding ways to help serve the poor. Driven by this desire to assist those in need, he made the decision to pursue a law degree so he could provide legal aid to the poor.

Paprocki's first acceptance to law school came from Notre Dame Law School. While Paprocki was eager to attend Notre Dame, he ultimately decided to decline the admission offer, as he was assigned to be a priest at St. Michael's Parish in South Chicago at the time. He chose to instead enroll at DePaul College of Law, believing that this was where “God wanted [him] to be.”

Paprocki emphasized “vocation often requires sacrifice” even if “you want to do something as much as I wanted to go to law school” at Notre Dame. 

With his law degree, Paprocki co-founded a legal clinic dedicated to serving the poor while continuing to fulfill his duties as a parish priest. In 2013, he earned an MBA degree from Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business through the “Executive Education” program.

Paprocki argued being a lawyer is not necessarily a vocation but rather a profession, insisting a “vocation is [a] task to get to heaven.”

Paprocki then expanded on that idea, stating “the vocation of spouses is to help your spouse get to heaven” and “if you've got children, your vocation is to help your children get to heaven.”

Furthermore, Paprocki went on to say the idea individuals have that “I'm going to find someone that's going to make me happy” is the reversal of vocation. He defines a true vocation for marriage as loving someone so much that “you will give your life to them.”

Ultimately, Paprocki stated the purpose of vocation “is to be with God in heaven and share in God's love.”