November 6-12, 2016 has been declared National Vocation Awareness Week. The USCCB describes this week as “an annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations.”
While some lament the decrease in vocations of the priesthood, the response of young men to this calling has been rising steadily over the past two decades. For example, Saint John’s Seminary in Boston recently bought back property because they are “bursting at the seams” and need more space for the increase in seminarians. The Diocese of Charlotte has even had to establish a new college seminary because of the increased interest in the priesthood.
So while we may mourn the closing down or consolidation of parishes, many believe it is temporary and that in the decades to come we will see many more quality priests become pastors and lead the next generation of Catholics.
One of the most practical ways to help promote vocations in the parish is to challenge young people to lead lives of holiness. Without a close friendship with Christ, no one can discover their specific calling.
As we reflect on vocations this week, let us pray for quality vocations, realizing we don’t simply need more priests and nuns, but holy men and women who respond to God’s call.
You knit each of us in our mother’s womb
creating us for a specific role in the building up of Your Kingdom.
Grant us the grace to discover the path
You have laid out for us,
the path where we will use the gifts You have given us
for Your greater glory.
Stir within our hearts a desire to follow Your will
and to respond with generosity and courage,
recognizing that You know us better than we know ourselves.
May the young people of our community
open their hearts to Your will
and may they find in our families and parishes
a place where they can be supported and encouraged
no matter what vocation they pursue.
Send forth Your spirit to inspire our youth
to strive for holiness in their vocation,
establishing an intimate friendship with You
so that they can become holy husbands and wives,
holy mothers and fathers,
holy priests and brothers,
holy sisters and nuns,
holy deacons and consecrated virgins,
holy chaste single men and women.
Above all things, we recognize that we need more saints than ever
who will become beacons of light in a culture of darkness.
We offer up our prayer to You, Merciful Father,
through the intercession of Mary our Mother,
in the Holy Spirit,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.