We’re all called to be vocation directors!
When was the last time that you told a young lady in your parish that you thought she should consider a vocation to the consecrated life? How long has it been since you mentioned to that young man in church that you thought the Lord might be calling him to be a priest and that you thought he would make a good one? In your personal prayer do you ask the Lord to open the heart and mind of your daughter/son to respond generously to the Lord’s invitation to serve the Church as a sister, brother or priest? Have you told your son or grandson that you would be proud of him should he consider the priesthood? Have you ever mentioned to your daughter what a tremendous gift it would be to your family if she chose to become a religious sister? These are appropriate questions to reflect upon as we mark World Day of Prayer for Vocations on Sunday, May 15.
Pope John Paul II, in his exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, reminded us years ago that the Church, you and me, our families, are responsible for the birth and development of vocations. That’s where they come from: us.
We can devise and implement creative diocesan programs that promote Church vocations (and we must), but vocations can come from only one source: our homes, our families, our parishes. Personal, family, and parish encouragement are essential ingredients in the fostering of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
The Diocese of Ogdensburg is blessed with a very fine priest who serves as our Diocesan Vocations Director, Father Bryan Stitt. In reality, however, each one of us is called to be a vocations director. While there are many elements in today’s society that make it especially difficult for a young person to commit his/her life as a consecrated religious or priest, the greatest force we possess to support such a life-altering decision is the power of prayer.
I encourage you, if you don’t already, to add a special intention for vocations to your personal daily prayer and include it among your petitions at Mass. It would be a precious gift to our Church if you could spend a dedicated hour for vocations and for our seminarians, at least once a month, in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, hopefully during your parish’s Holy Hour for Vocations
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews challenges the early Christians (and you and me) to: “Persevere in running the race that lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.” (Heb. 12:1-2) We keep our eyes fixed on Christ with a disciplined prayer life, regular celebration of the sacrament of Penance and faithful participation at Holy Eucharist. These are the means for fostering one’s personal vocation in Christ. When we all strive to meet this challenge daily, no matter what our walk in life might be, the Body of Christ is being built up and vocations to the consecrated life and to ordained ministry are nurtured.
Our own joyful witness of our particular vocation is an excellent means to reawaken in many young people the desire to follow in the Lord’s footsteps. Our own lively faith is the best tonic to be applied for a growth in Church vocations.
Pope Benedict XVI recently told a group of bishops: “The world needs God and will therefore always need people who live for Him and proclaim Him to others.” As pastoral planning continues in our parishes, we will rely more and more on the particular gifts that those who are living the vocation of the married and single life bring to our family of faith.
Let us continue to pray for one another as we embrace and proclaim Jesus’ call: