Here are a few suggestions to help individuals and parishes to help promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Those who often feel they might have a vocation sometimes hesitate before answering the Lord's call. These ways provide opportunities to dialogue with those considering a vocation to priesthood or religious life, and to support them in as many ways as possible.
Holy Hours for Vocations – begin Eucharistic Exposition for Vocations in your parish. Prayer before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is particularly fruitful for vocations. A parish rosary for vocation intentions is also very fruitful.
Encourage Prayer for One’s Own Vocation – encourage and lead young people to pray to the Lord for discernment in their vocation. Is the Lord calling me to priesthood, religious life, married life, or the single life?
Mass Intentions for Vocations – Offer Mass on a regular basis for the intention of increased vocations to priesthood and religious life.
Ask – Tell promising young boys and men who show interest in truth, compassion for others, and an aptitude for the spiritual life that they would make a fine priest. Ask them to pray and consider the priesthood. Likewise, ask promising young girls and women to pray and consider religious life, and tell them they would make a fine sister or nun.
Work with the Parish Priest – Work with the pastor at your parish on vocation awareness activities. The priest is a primary influence on young people considering priesthood and religious life. For example, the priest at confirmation interviews can ask the candidates if they’ve considered priesthood/religious life.
Encourage Parents – Invite parents of vocation sons and daughters to give a talk at the end of Mass about the joy of being a parent of a priest, seminarian, or religious brother or sister. Parents need to here other parents speak on vocations. Speak to parents groups and parish organizations about the parents’ role in vocations.
Celebrate Vocation Dates – Have special Masses, talks, or events during National Vocation Awareness Week, World Day for Consecrated Life, and World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Make use of materials provided by the Office of Vocations of the diocese.
Parish Bulletin Articles – Provide a weekly or monthly article or “corner” in the parish bulletin on vocation reflection or vocation prayer. Place a vocation prayer card in the hymnals or parish missalettes.
Parish Mission or Retreat – Host a parish mission or retreat. Prayer often brings discernment and conversion.
Recognize Altar Servers – Recognize servers with a reward night or an outing.
Invite the Vocations Director to Speak – The Director of Vocations can be invited to speak about vocations at weekend Masses or at other events. It is a nice way to give the local pastor some time off.
Vocations Committees – Start a vocations committee at your parish to encourage young people to consider vocations.
Vocations Presentation at Parish Schools and Religious Education Classes – periodically talk about vocations to students in parish schools or religious education programs. Often a panel format with priests, religious sisters and brothers, and others is a great way to show the unity of the Church in vocations. Ask TEC members or those particularly skilled in youth ministry to speak on vocations. Also, highlight the lives of saints in religious education classes – they are the heroes and models for young people.
Vocations Literature – Put up pictures of diocesan seminarians and make available other vocation literature from the Diocese of Madison Office of Vocations. Have pictures of priests, brothers, or sisters who came from the parish displayed with a short biography in the parish hall.
Sponsor a Visit to a Seminary, Monastery, or Convent – Having young people visit religious houses and seminaries provides tangibility to priesthood and religious life.
Youth Ministry and Young Adult Discussion Groups – These ministries are the seedbed of vocations. Youth ministry and young adult groups allow young people to consistently pray and examine issues of faith that help them grow in the spiritual life.
Prayer by Shut-Ins, Elderly, and the Sick – Ask those who may be physically limited to offer their prayers and suffering for vocations.
Host Catholic Movie Nights – Ask youth or young adults to attend a Catholic movie night at the parish. The night could consist of prayer, a meal or refreshments, a Catholic movie, and discussion.
Host Parish Youth or Discernment Nights – Invite youth, high school students, or young adults to separate or combined discernment nights. Possible components could include prayer, socials, panel discussions from priests and religious, meet the pastor sessions, question and answer sessions, movies, trips to cathedrals or other churches, book reviews or discussion groups, etc…
Host the Chalice/Cross Program – Work with your parish priest to have families gather (perhaps for a meal) to pray for vocations, and then circulate the chalice or cross from family to family as each family prays for vocations. This chalice or cross is then given to the member of the parish who becomes a priest, brother, or sister. This gives each family a wonderful opportunity to talk about vocations and their role in fostering vocations.
Invite Candidates to Speak to the Vocations Directors – Invite those showing interest in priesthood or religious life to speak to the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Madison. You can call him at 608-821-3095. We never pressure young men or women, but rather help them to grow in their spiritual life and discern and pray about their vocation, and encourage them to learn more about possible vocations. The Lord wants a free response from those whom He calls.
Visit the Vocations Website of the Diocese – Young people and young adults in parishes can access the diocesan vocations website at www.madisonvocations.org. It is an easy and exciting way for Catholic school students and religious education students to interactively learn about vocations.
Vocation Prayer in Parish Hymnals – This vocation prayer can be used as a regular part of parish worship – whether at Masses, at Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or at private or communal prayer. The Office of Vocations has sample prayers and prayer cards available for parishes.
Support Our Seminarians – Parishes can write letters to our seminarians, especially on their birthdays. Catholic school children often write beautiful letters that seminarians find touching. The Office of Vocations will happily supply contact information for our seminarians.
Seminarian Journal – Ask one of the seminarians to keep a journal of his seminary experience and submit a summary periodically in the parish bulletin. Parishioners can get a peek at seminary life through his writing.