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How Do I Decide?

We know that spending more than three years in mission far from home is a big decision that cannot be made quickly. In fact, we look for and encourage careful discernment before you apply and during the application and orientation program.

What is discernment?

In Christian terms, it is a spiritual practice of prayerful deliberation about major decisions and directions in your life. It is more than making a pro and con list, and it involves spending time thinking about the core of who you are, your values, and where you belong in the world.


According to David Lonsdale, who teaches Christian spirituality and pastoral theology at the University of London, “Discernment is more than a pragmatically effective way of making choices. It is rather a framework which enables us to join in partnership with God in making choices which will help to bring about the fulfillment of God’s generous hopes and desires for the world and for us.” (From Listening to the Music of the Spirit: The Art of Discernment)


To discern, therefore, is to become aware of God’s presence in our lives and to listen for that “still small voice” that gives us glimpses into God’s will for us.


Elements of discernment include

  • gathering information and considering options
  • open-hearted prayer
  • carefully examining our motives either for moving toward a path or for moving away from it
  • humbly seeking for a sense of God’s presence and where God is leading


Maryknoll Lay Missioners offers resources to help you discern, including reflection questionsretreats and webinars, and suggested reading materials. Our staff is also available to discuss your plans with you before and during the formal application process.