Share the following ideas to help increase priestly vocations with your students. The material is taken from Marriage and Holy Orders: Your Call to Love and Serve.
During the fifteen years that Father James Gould was vocation director for the Diocese of Arlington, this diocese of only sixty-five parishes in northern Virginia produced an average of eight new priests per year. By the year 2000, the average age of priests in the diocese was forty-two, nearly twenty years below the national average. Father Gould’s goal during those years was to look for ten new priesthood candidates per year. A few of the years he fell short of the goal, but in one year Arlington had twenty-two men enter the seminary. In this one diocese, there is not a priest shortage.
Father Gould outlined a simple formula for success:
- “Unswerving allegiance to the Pope and magisterial teaching;
- perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in parishes, with an emphasis on praying for vocations;
- and the strong effort by a significant number of diocesan priests who extend themselves to help young men remain open to the Lord’s will in their lives.”
This formula has been shared with other vocation directors and dioceses and the potential for success is strong. How might they work in your parish and diocese? What are some other ways that you can help promote vocations to the priesthood? Read through the list of ideas below. Choose at least one of the ideas or come up with one on your own. Develop a plan to work with others to implement this idea at your school or parish.
Perpetual Adoration. Arrange for a schedule of continuous prayer for vocations before the Blessed Sacrament at a school chapel or at your parish. Collect names of people willing to sign up for fifteen minute or half hour blocks of time. Make this a regular event.
Publicize Special Vocation Events. Highlight special events during occasions like National Vocation Awareness Week, World Day for Consecrated Life, or World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Also take note of special events offered particularly in your own diocese. Volunteer to distribute flyers or other promotional material to people at your school or parish. Invite your peers to these events. Offer to be part of the program or to help with hospitality or clerical work.
Witness Talk. Broach the topic of vocations to the priesthood at a youth group meeting or at a campus ministry event. Speak personally about how you are discerning your own vocational call. Arrange for a priest or seminarian to speak about his own calling.
Seminary Visit. Call a local seminary and arrange for a group of classmates to come to the seminary to hear a presentation by the vocation director and seminarians, and perhaps tour the campus as well.
Website Links. Create a set of links to vocation websites in your own diocese and beyond and include them on your personal homepage. Or, write about the importance of vocational efforts on a blog. Include links to relevant vocation sites there as well.
- Is there someone you know who has chosen a radical or countercultural lifestyle? Describe the person and the lifestyle.
- How do you imagine your commitment to discipleship in Jesus Christ for the future: extreme, radical, moderate, wavering? Choose a word to describe it and explain.