Blocking out the noise to hear God’s call

Father Ken Marlovits has succeeded Father Mike Ackerman as director of the diocesan Office of Priestly Vocations, with Father Ackerman settling into his new assignment as senior parochial vicar at Saint Kilian and Holy Sepulcher parishes. Pittsburgh Catholic correspondent Bill Hill posed several questions to Father Marlovits about his new role.

What is your main goal in your new position as vocations director?

Like many people today, I am learning how to re-establish pre-Covid work relationships.  For those of us in the Church of Pittsburgh we also faced the need to adjust to changes brought on by the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative.  So, my top goal is to establish vibrant working relationships with the each of our new parishes as well as the many vibrant faith communities and organizations we have here in the Pittsburgh area. 

The Catholic Church describes four vocations — the ordained life, consecrated life, married life and single life. But you see it a bit differently.

That is what I would call the safe, textbook answer.  However, a vocation is always going to be a call to love that originates from God.  Our understanding of this vocational call often changes over a lifetime. However, for most of us, we finally come to understand the best pathway of love God has placed before us and we enter into a permanent vocation by way of ordination to the priesthood or diaconate, by sacred vows in the religious and consecrated life, or through marriage or the single life. This answer understands the question asked as being specific to permanent states of life.  Of course, no matter what our current state is, we are all called to the vocation of holiness.

Does the vocations office encourage all vocations? Or is it focused mostly on priestly vocations?

As a priest, one of my most fundamental callings is to help people encounter, love, and follow God.  With that understanding, I am here to help everyone discover their vocation.  However, in my position as director of the Office of Priestly Vocations, often times simply called the vocation director, I focus primarily on priestly vocations for the diocese.  Please keep in mind, however, that a goal of this office has always been to work collaboratively with others for the promotion of our universal call to holiness and to promote events that help all people find their true vocation.

How can we listen to God’s call in such a busy world?

Noise is the greatest weapon the world has to prevent us from hearing God’s call.  There is the obvious noise of TV, radio, social media, video games, music and the entire entertainment industry.  But there is also the noise of our own minds.  Our attempts to tell God what we want or need.  To talk constantly at God, or to talk to ourselves about why we are not good enough in the eyes of God.  All of this noise prevents us from hearing God speak to us.  Yes, sometimes even our own prayer blocks out God’s voice! 

We need silence to listen to God.  It is important to find that silence. Maybe you can spend time at a Holy Hour, Perpetual Adoration, or visit a Church and be with the Lord in the tabernacle. Maybe your silence can be found in a walk in the woods or in your garden, on the back porch with a cup of coffee watching the sun come up.  Maybe your only “alone time” is in the car, so you need to take advantage of that opportunity for silence. To listen to God you must find silence, both the external and internal silence which will allow the soft whisper of the Lord to be revealed.  

How do we discern His will?

To discern God’s will we must be in community.  We can never discern alone.  We are a people of community.  We are the Body of Christ.  If you want to discern God’s will you need to be active and to get involved.  Get engaged in your local parish, Bible studies, ministries, service programs and projects.  You need to be active to discern.  Utilize your individual gifts and talents to help others and learn from those interactions what brings you joy and fulfillment.  More importantly, have someone to talk to about your experiences.  As you share your experiences and successes and failures with someone else the themes of your joy will become evident, and from there you can gain the insight needed to discern God’s will in your life. 

For men who have questions about the priesthood, how can they get in touch with you?

The best ways to reach me are either by email ( or by the contact feature from  My office phone is 412-456-3123.