Vocations to priesthood and religious life need to be nurtured by the prayer and support of communities of faith: the family, the school and the parish. St John Paul II said that “all members of the Church, without exception, have the grace and responsibility to look after vocations” (Pastores dabo vobis, n. 41). How can you look after vocations in your family, school or parish?
Support vocations in your family
Help your children be aware that God loves them, cares about their future, has given them gifts to serve others, and will personally call them to their vocation. Here are some ways you can do this.
- Pray with your children every day and encourage them to listen to God.
- Witness to the joy you experience through your own vocation to marriage.
- Let your children see the joy of the vocations to the priesthood and religious life. You could so this by reading/watching stories of the saints, bringing your family to the next Ordination Mass, or including priests and religious at family gatherings.
- Be open to the possibility that God may call your child to a vocation other than marriage. Read about the experiences of parents whose child has become a priest or religious: Letter from parents of a priest; My Son, a Priest?; My Daughter, a Consecrated Woman?
Supporting vocations in your school
It’s never too early to talk to students about their vocation. Some people assume we cannot talk to young people about vocations until they are young adults. But a recent study of men ordained in the USA revealed that 61% had already thought about being a priest by the time they were 17, with some first considering this vocation at the age of 5. You can support the vocations of those students by:
- Watching short films on priesthood and religious life; see links here.
- Organising a School Vocations Forum through the Vocation Centre. This is a panel of speakers from different vocations. Each shares a 5 minute story about how they discovered their vocation. Q&A with the students follows.
- Giving your students access to materials on vocation. Vocation Centre can supply you with free prayer cards and reading material on vocation.
- Incorporate prayers for vocations into your school liturgy (see the prayers section of the website)
- Arrange a priest or religious brother or sister to tell their vocation story during an appropriate class. The Vocation Centre can help you to arrange this.
Supporting vocations in your parish
Your parish has an important role in nurturing vocations. A recent study of men ordained in the USA showed 71% were encouraged in their vocation by their parish priest. The men ordained had high levels of involvement in parish ministries such as being an altar server (78%), lector (51%), extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (46%) or a catechist (37%). Here are some things to do to create a supportive vocations culture in your parish:
- Order free catechetical resources for your parish foyer from the Vocation Centre. These include prayer cards, DVDs, and catechetical booklets on vocation.
- Help develop or support the ministry of altar service in your parish. The Guild of St Stephen runs camps for altar servers to provide fellowship and formation.
- Schedule an evening where a priest, religious sister, religious brother, or seminarian can shares their personal vocation story at Mass or a youth group. Contact the Vocation Centre to arrange this.
- Become a Parish Vocations Coordinator.