Celebrating National Vocation Awareness Week

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The lay faithful also, and particularly catechists, teachers, educators and youth ministers, each with his or her own resources and style, have great importance in the pastoral work of promoting priestly [and religious] vocations: The more they inculcate a deep appreciation of young people’s vocation and mission in the Church, the more they will be able to recognize the unique value of the priestly [and religious] vocation and mission. —Blessed John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, n.41

Every priest or religious sister or brother can point to someone who planted the seed of a vocation and nurtured its growth. Oftentimes, it was a priest, religious, or lay person who taught them in elementary, middle, or high school. Perhaps it was a coach or staff member of the school. Recognizing this, Pope John Paul II called on teachers and catechists to help foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life in a very particular way. National Vocation Awareness Week will be celebrated January 13-19, 2013. Advancing a culture of vocations through developing the child’s prayer life, his or her call to holiness, and openness to God’s will in his or her life is a continuous process. National Vocations Awareness Week provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to directly promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Please take the opportunity of this Vocations Awareness Week to promote and foster a culture of vocations to the priesthood and religious life at your school. Below, please find some easy activities that can be done in the school to plant the seeds of vocations. These activities are far from a complete list; please use the ideas that you think will work best with your class and be creative. Prayer and activities are a great beginning but personal encouragement and invitation from you, their teacher or administrator, to consider a call to the priesthood or religious life will have an even greater impact.

Opening children’s minds and hearts to the possibility that God is calling them to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life does not end with Vocations Awareness Week—it is ongoing. Pray for your students; you never know if one of your students of today could be your parish priest of tomorrow!

Suggested Parish Activities for Vocations Awareness Week 2013

Prayer 

Holy Hour
Consider hosting a holy hour for vocations.  The format can be simple: Exposition, Adoration, perhaps a reading from Scripture and homily, a Litany for Vocations (see separate attachment) or a Rosary for vocations, Benediction and reposition.  The Office of Vocations would be happy to assist you in organizing a Holy Hour for Vocations.

Eucharistic Adoration
Does you parish already host Eucharistic Adoration on a monthly, weekly, or 24/7 basis and you don’t think it would be prudent to add another Holy Hour?  Would you dedicate the time of Adoration that month for vocations or invite those who come to adore on a particular day (perhaps Thursday, since Jesus instituted the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders on Holy Thursday) to offer their time in adoration for vocations to the priesthood and religious life?

Mass
Offer Masses for Vocations: Don’t have a Mass intention for one (or more) of the Masses during Vocations Awareness Week (or other days during the year)?  Offer Mass for vocations to the priesthood and religious life!  The Roman Missal provides beautiful options to be used to pray for vocations.  The Gospel on Monday, January 14, is the Jesus invited Simon and Andrew to follow Him and become “fishers of men,” a perfect Gospel for a Mass for vocations!

Preach Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life
Blessed John Paul II said, “We need a ‘direct preaching on the mystery of vocation in the Church, on the value of the ministerial priesthood, on God’s people’s’” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 39).  Sunday, January 13 is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and provides fertile ground for a homily on living out our own baptismal commitments and vocation.  If you are in a parish where your congregation is older, preach about how everyone can support and foster vocations through prayer—that is something that Jesus calls each of us to do.

Prayer of the Faithful
Include a petition for vocations in the prayer of the faithful at each Mass celebrated during Vocations Awareness Week.

Bulletin
Write a “pastor’s column” for your bulletin on a topic relating to vocations or your own vocation story or joy in the priesthood.  Include the following bulletin blurb in your bulletin for the weekend of January 13:  The Lord’s baptism in the Jordan marked the beginning of his public ministry.  With our own Baptism and Confirmation, we are called to follow the Lord as His disciples by living out the vocation to which He calls us.  This week we celebrate Vocations Awareness Week, a time to reflect upon the different Christian vocations.  Take time this week to pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  If you are not already in the vocation to the married life then prayerfully consider if God is calling you to the priesthood or religious life.  Visit catholicpriest.com for more information.

Looking for something to fill your bulletin some weeks?  Include a prayer for vocations!  It will be a gentle reminder to parishioners to pray for vocations year-round and not just during Vocations Awareness Week.  Many prayers for vocations can be found at http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers/prayers-for-vocations.cfm

Youth Ministry
Have your youth ministry meeting in January be centered around listening for and responding to God’s call in the lives of your young people.

Have an “Ask-the -Priest” night at youth ministry (and/or in your parish school) and allow the young people to ask you questions on any topic, including vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Have a Holy Hour for Vocations with the young people.  Instead of having all the focus be on their own call, invite them to take up the role of praying for vocations.  This subtle shift may make them more open to prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to move their own hearts to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.

Begin the meeting with a prayer to know my vocation such as:
Heavenly Father,
You have a great and loving plan for our world and for me.
I want to do my part in your plan.
Enlighten me with the grace of the Holy Spirit
to see the signs that you give me.
Open my heart to respond to You.
Grant me the courage to follow Your call
and the strength to serve You and Your people
with generosity and love.
Amen.

Or check out one of the many prayers for vocations on the USCCB website.

Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry
The Congregation for Catholic Education, Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations, issued a document entitled “Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry” earlier this year.  A separate .pdf file of this document is being sent with this memo for your reference.

Parish (or priest’s) Webiste/Facebook
Take a few moments to write your vocation story for your parish’s website.  Many parish websites have clergy/staff pages where this could be posted as a link from your picture or name.  Vocation stories are an area to which many men who are discerning a vocation are drawn.

  • Include a link to catholicpriest.com on your parish and personal website.
  • ‘Like’ the Diocese of Providence Office of Vocations page on Facebook.

Suggested School Activities for Vocations Awareness Week 2013

Prayer

  • Begin each day (or each class) during Vocations Awareness Week with a Prayer to Know My Vocation such as the following:

Heavenly Father,
You have a great and loving plan for our world and for me.
I want to do my part in your plan.
Enlighten me with the grace of the Holy Spirit
to see the signs that you give me.
Open my heart to respond to You.
Grant me the courage to follow Your call
and the strength to serve You and Your people
with generosity and love.
Amen.

  • Or check out one of the many prayers for vocations on the USCCB website.
  • As an introduction to the morning prayer, ask one of the priests or religious who are (or have been) at your parish or school to give a brief reflection on his or her vocation. If they cannot be at the school to lead the morning prayer, ask them to write something which can be read to the students. Alternatively, introduce the prayer with a brief explanation of a life of a saint or blessed who was a priest or religious. Some examples are Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St. John Vianney, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. John Baptiste de la Salle, or perhaps your school’s patron saint.
  • Do you include a petition for vocations in the Prayer of the Faithful at school Masses? If not, add the petition! Regularly encouraging the young people to pray for an increase in vocations and an openness to God’s will can plant the seeds of a vocation in their own hearts and/or bear fruit in the hearts of others.
  • Gather the students to pray a Rosary for vocations or work with your school chaplain to plan a Holy Hour for vocations.

 

School Newspaper/Facebook Page
Take the opportunity of Vocations Awareness Week to interview a priest and/or religious about their call to priesthood and/or religious life for your school’s newspaper, website, or Facebook page. If your school’s newspaper is not published that week, that is OK—include the interview in a later edition and mention that the interview was done during Vocations Awareness Week in the article.

Vocations Panel
Consider having a vocations panel at your school. Include a priest, religious, married couple, permanent deacon and allow each a few minutes to give their vocation story. After all have spoken, give the children the chance to ask questions. Allow the children to see that the vocations are different but that each is following God’s will in his or her own life.  Not able to arrange a whole vocations panel? Invite a priest or religious to visit the school and speak to specific grades. The Vocations Office would welcome the opportunity to visit schools!

Lesson Plans
Lesson plans for every grade from kindergarten through middle school are on the Office of Vocations website. Vocation Awareness Week is an excellent opportunity to make use of these resources.

Videos
Have you shown the “Fishers of Men” video to your class? You can find it on YouTube or call the Office of Vocations for a copy of the DVD if your school does not already have one. There are many other fine vocations videos on YouTube. Choose the one(s) that are appropriate for the age group you are teaching.

Adopt-A-Seminarian
There are currently 22 men in formation for the priesthood in the Diocese of Providence. Assign one of the seminarians to each student in class and have them write a letter/draw a picture/make a card to send him. A list of the seminarians and their mailing addresses is found below. Remember to have the students pray for the seminarian as they are writing/making their cards to send him.

Catechism of the Catholic Church & YouCat
Look at the sections on priesthood in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC n. 1536ff) or in YouCat. How can these be worked into class discussions during the week.

Library
Does your school library have books on priesthood and religious life (or perhaps saints who were priests or religious)? Make a display of them in the library. Use books such as Becoming Father Bob (Signo Press) or lives of the saints with younger children during story times. The book, To Save a Thousand Souls, is a great resource for high school men who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood.

Bulletin Boards
Looking for ideas to decorate a bulletin board in the winter months? How about a vocations bulletin board for the month of January? Use the seminarian poster, pictures of priests and religious from your parish or school (ask them for copies of pictures from their ordination or profession of vows and other moments in their ministry), and pictures of saints.

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