The U.S. Catholic Church celebrates National Vocation Awareness Week Nov. 5–11. It sounds like an event the church is putting on for us, but it is really a call to action for members of the church. A vocation is a calling, and we are all called to serve Jesus. But Vocation Awareness Week highlights those special vocations of service for the church: priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life. This week reminds us of the need for holy and dedicated persons to fulfill these vocations.
It’s also a good time to remember that we have a part to play. It’s not enough just to figure that the archbishop will find someone, somewhere, somehow, to staff our parish.
“Prayer for vocations is the responsibility of the entire church,” said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia. “Oftentimes we think that vocations will come from somewhere else, and yet God invites us to consider that he is raising up vocations to priesthood, consecrated life and the permanent diaconate from within our own communities, even our own families.”
All of us can help. For instance, we can thank and pray for our pastors, deacons and assistants who are in our parishes right now. Thank God we have them. We also need to pray for more young people to hear the Lord’s call despite the noise of our secular culture. We can pray for perseverance for those who are currently answering the call to serve. And we can look for promising candidates within our family or parish and encourage them to consider a religious vocation.
During Vocation Awareness Week this year, consider praying each day for more holy priests, deacons and consecrated men and women. As Pope Francis has said, we must be persistent: “I ask parish communities, associations, and the many prayer groups present in the church not to yield to discouragement but to continue praying that the Lord will send workers to his harvest. May he give us priests enamored of the Gospel, close to all their brothers and sisters, living signs of God’s merciful love.”
In our archdiocese, a group that takes awareness beyond a week is the Serra Club, which is dedicated to praying for and supporting vocations. Serrans see this as part of their own Christian vocations to serve. Since the Serra Club’s founding in 1935 (it started in Seattle and is now international), Serrans have offered assistance to the archdiocesan vocation director, seminarians, priests and religious. This is one of the prayers Serrans say:
O God, who wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live, grant, we beseech you, through the intercession of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, St. Joseph her spouse, St. Junípero Serra and all the saints, an increase of laborers for your church, fellow laborers with Christ to spend and consume themselves for souls, through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
ARCHDIOCESE OF SEATTLE VOCATION PRAYER
God our Father, you call each of us to use our gifts in the body of Christ. We ask that you inspire those whom you call to priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life to courageously follow your will. Send workers into your great harvest so that the Gospel is preached, the poor are served with love, the suffering are comforted and your people are strengthened by the sacraments. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Northwest Catholic - November 2017