At every parish where I’d been assigned, I happened to be on the vocations committee. And in every circumstance, we were always trying to figure out what to do to help the mission of vocations. Whether with a tried-and-true method or something outside of the box, we were forever seeking the solution to solve the vocation problem.
But of course, there is no one program or event that can make this happen. Rather, it takes the work of many people to provide prayers and programs to foster a culture of vocations year-round. In such a culture, understanding what a vocation is and listening for God’s call become somewhat built into the fabric of our Catholic identity, so that when it is time for young men and women to make choices, they will have been praying and thinking about it their whole lives.
Here are five great ways to promote the culture of vocations at your parish.
Of course the most obvious is prayer, and Mass is the best way to start. Have a monthly Mass — or even a weekly one — specifically for the intention of vocations. Promote this on the Detroit Priestly Vocations website, which highlights all parishes in the archdiocese offering Mass for vocations. Make sure to include this intention in the prayers of the faithful for everyone to hear.
If your parish has a school, consider making one of the school Masses for vocations as well. The more our youth hear about it, the better. Pray the rosary for vocations, and involve the rosary groups that pray before or after Mass. Rosary groups are the powerhouse of the Church and we are fueled by their service! The Vocations Office is starting a movement: whenever the Luminous Mysteries are prayed, they are for an increase in priestly vocations here in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Join this movement by signing up on the vocations website to commit to praying the Luminous Mysteries. Whether done once a week, or an extra rosary a day, the Blessed Mother will surely hear our prayers.
Start a Traveling Chalice for Vocations.
With this program, families sign up to take the traveling chalice home to pray about and discern their own vocation. If your parish doesn’t have an extra chalice, the Knights of Columbus can donate one to be used for this purpose. With a special prayer at the end of Mass, the pastor entrusts the chalice to a new family each week. Create a prayer packet and a journal to accompany the traveling chalice so families can write down the graces they received throughout the week.
At the parish school, each classroom can take the chalice for a given time. In the morning announcements, share a prayer and announce which classroom the chalice is going to next. This can also be modified for Religious Education programs.
“Adopt” a seminarian.
Pick a seminarian that your parish wants to support by way of prayers. Put his picture in the bulletin and place it in the back of the church so people can see that there are still men discerning the call to the priesthood. Visit the vocations website to send him a spiritual bouquet of the prayers the parish offered on his behalf. Your parish may already sponsor a seminarian through your Knights of Columbus Council.
Each classroom in your school can sponsor a seminarian by putting his picture up and praying for him daily. Discover fun facts about all the seminarians, such as their favorite Bible verses and favorite foods, which can be fun for the kids to learn. Many women are also joining religious orders at this time, so you may consider supporting them as well.
Have a special day for altar servers.
When it comes to priesthood, the great majority of men being ordained were altar servers at some point. Have an afternoon retreat for altar servers, not only for training, but also to teach about the different vocations and how God is calling them. End the day with something fun like a pizza party where the priests in your parish or Family of Parishes attend. Seeing priests joke around and have fun together had a huge impact on my own vocation, and the opportunity to get to know priests in a fun way can do the same for altar servers. Some parishes even take trips to places like Cedar Point and have the opportunity to pray on the bus and speak about God’s call for them.
Celebrate all the major vocation days in a big way.
For 2021, World Day of Prayer for Vocations is April 25th, Priesthood Sunday is on September 26th, and National Vocation Awareness Week is November 7th-13th. Put these dates on the parish calendar and promote these occasions with something special. It can be something as simple as an ice cream social after Mass to celebrate Priesthood Sunday, or having kids in the school and parish write letters to your pastor. Each day of National Vocation Awareness Week could highlight a different vocation for the parish and school to learn about. There are many opportunities to get as creative with these!
Together we can continue to fortify a culture that supports vocations, so that seeking God’s call is just a normal part of every Catholic’s life. The more we can talk and promote all vocations, the easier it will be for our youth to say yes when God calls. For more information and resources, visit the Detroit Priestly Vocations website.