We can do more to foster vocations

| July 14, 2016 | 1 Comment
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GLOBAL.CH squareAnita Draper
Catholic Herald

We are all aware of the need for vocations to the priesthood and religious life in our diocese.

While bishops are alternately praised or blamed as the number of vocations rise and fall, they have – from a practical perspective – far less face-to-face contact with those discerning a life in God’s service than a parish priest, for example.

As I chat with Catholics across the diocese, I often hear something to the tune of, “I wonder what he’s going to do to increase vocations.”

Bishops carry crosiers, not magic wands, and they don’t have biological children who can be encouraged to follow in their fathers’ footsteps.

A better-posed question, then, would be, “What can we do to increase vocations?”
We needn’t look far for answers. In 2003, the Diocese of Madison had six seminarians. Now, they have more than 30.

They also have a page on their diocesan website at http://www.madisondiocese.org/Home.aspx that unlocks the mystery of this transformation, and most of the suggestions fall into one of two categories: prayer or communication.

On the prayer side, there’s a robust list of options: celebrate Masses and schedule adoration hours for vocations; ask the elderly and shut-ins to pray for vocations; recite prayers for vocations at Mass; encourage prayerful discernment of those considering vocations; host parish retreats that inspire personal prayer and reflection; etc.

From a communication angle, much can be done: parishes can sponsor speakers – vocation directors, parents of seminarians, or young priests and religious – to encourage discerning youths and their parents; youth groups can host visits to seminaries/convents/monasteries; bulletins can include a seminarian’s diary or vocations corner; parishes can celebrate vocations week, create vocations committees, distribute vocations literature and host Catholic movie nights and discernment nights; families can join a chalice/cross program, correspond with seminarians and emphasize vocations in their homes; Catholic school administrators and teachers can invite priests/religious to give presentations on vocations; parishes can host young adult discussion groups; and the list goes on.

I’m sure every parish in the diocese is already doing one or more of these activities. But, taken in full, this list represents a saturation of prayer for and invitation to vocations – a level of dedication we’ve probably not attained.
The lesson, then, is we can do more. We can pray more. We can encourage and invite more. We can stand together more, and focus our collective energy on ensuring the future of our local church.

There is work to be done.

Category: Staff writer

Comments (1)

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  1. Lee Gilbert says:

    Isn’t this a pretty thin culture of vocation, though? When in Italy some time ago I saw an article In Avvenire titled ( in Italian) “The Culture of Vocation vs. the Culture of Distraction.” When the culture of distraction (especially TV) is eliminated from the family home, then prayer and a holy way of life becomes a possibility, the culture of vocation.

    And what would this culture look like? Well, many lives of the saints begins something like this: “When Johnny was a little boy, his mother used to read to him from the Gospels and the lives of the saints.” Such was the life of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. In the life of Solanus Casey we read that the family used to gather round the piano in the evening and sing songs together, then read good books. In the family life of St. Therese, we find the parents reading the gospels and the lives of the saints in the evening.

    When I wrote to my daughter in the convent offering the opinion that the Latin liturgy seemed to contribute to vocations to her monastery, she wrote back and said that the sisters disagreed with me. Rather, they said, vocations seemed to come from families where parents read bible stories and the lives of the saints to the children in the evening.

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