Interviewing priests, deacons, and religious about their vocational callings for the radio program, “Answering The Call” on AM 820 is an honor and a privilege beyond words. After hearing the stories of dozens of guests, it would be hard for me to pick a favorite. But here’s a part of Father Joseph Klee’s story that is really worth sharing.
Father told me that when his parents were young, they both considered religious life. His mother considered becoming a Dominican sister and his father was interested enough in the Holy Cross Fathers to go through their novitiate program. Afterward, and upon meeting a lovely woman, the young man began to wonder if marriage wasn’t his true vocation instead.
To seek answers, he and a friend named Joe decided to bicycle their way across Europe. The year was 1950 and the young Klee had heard of a wise Italian monk who was known for his marvelous discernment abilities. Klee just had to find him and ask for guidance. They pedaled through the Italian countryside in search of a monastery called San Giovanni Rotondo and a friar by the name of Padre Pio. Finally, they arrived at their destination and located a monk that could speak English.
When the young Americans explained the reason for their visit, the monk nodded and disappeared. Not long after, he brought with him Padre Pio himself. The nervous young Klee repeated his vocational dilemma, which was translated into Italian by the helpful monk. Padre Pio looked with piercing eyes at the young man standing before him and immediately responded with a short burst of Italian. Then he paused, looked up toward heaven, and gave one more short response before leaving the room.
Young Klee begged the translator to reveal what had just been said. The translator thought a moment and responded, “He says, there are plenty of good fish in the sea.” Klee immediately thought of the lovely young woman who had recently captured his attention, and realized Padre Pio was saying that marriage was to be his vocation – if not to this woman, then to another. He was so immersed in his thoughts, he heard nothing else.
Klee returned to the United States and married the young woman he had met. Together they had four children: two boys and two girls. It wasn’t until his oldest child, Joseph, was well on his way to the priesthood, having just been ordained a transitional deacon, that Mr. Klee happened to have a phone conversation with his old friend, Joe. Bragging about his son’s recent accomplishment, Mr. Klee was startled by Joe’s response.
“It’s the prophecy!”
Not knowing what his friend meant, Joe explained. “Don’t you remember the words of Padre Pio?”
Mr. Klee could only remember the comment about the fish in the sea.
“Yes, but after that!” Joe insisted. “Padre Pio looked you right in the eye and told you that you were not going to be a priest, but that you would have a son who would be a priest…”
Mr. Klee hung up, dumbfounded, and grateful to God that he had not comprehended this great message from the Italian monk until God’s plan revealed itself in its own time.
I’ve had many guests on my show tell me they felt their calling at a young age, but this is the first I’ve heard of a calling come before the person was even born!
For more on Elizabeth’s writing and speaking, visit www.elizabethficocelli.com