Fostering Priestly Vocations in the Parish
All the faithful need to have a concern for encouraging and fostering vocations. Fostering vocations is the responsibility of the whole Church.
Crucial to fostering vocations is prayer. Vocational work is very much the work of the Holy Spirit. We can all pray to the ‘Lord of the harvest’ that he will continue to call men to serve the Church through the Priesthood or in religious life in our diocese and in the wider Church. “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, pray the Lord of the harvest will send out labourers into his harvest.” (Mt. 9:38)
Daily prayer is best way to obtain vocations, although traditionally Thursday has been the day set aside for praying for priestly vocations. The need to pray is as urgent as the need for more vocations to the Priesthood.
What to pray for?
- We pray for the family, the first seminary, the seed bed for vocations.
- For an increase in vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life.
- For young men in your parish to assist them to discern their vocation and to use their names when praying for them.
- For older men who may also be discerning their vocation.
- For seminarians for our diocese, and other seminarians of the other dioceses in New Zealand.
- For the seminary staff and those who are involved with the formation of future priests.
- For the priests of our diocese and especially your own Parish Priest, that they may be holy priests and good examples to follow.
- For all the faithful, who have the responsibility to foster and encourage vocations in the parish and in the family.
Prayers of the Faithful
We can pray for vocations during the Prayers of the Faithful every Sunday. There are suggested prayers on the vocations website or you may write your own Prayers of the Faithful.
We can also pray for vocations during the week day Masses, again during the Prayers of the Faithful.
Prayer cards are provided by the Vocations Director praying for the family and for vocations. Prayer cards are a good reminder to pray daily for vocations. They are a wonderful resource that can also be given to the homebound, the sick and elderly, those who may not be able to attend Mass but do want to pray. Contact the Vocations Director to supply prayer cards so you can have them available.
Parishes can always produce their own prayer cards and offer their suggestions to the Vocations Director who is always searching for beautiful prayers.
At the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin, Hamilton, the Catholic shop, Rosa Mystica has many resources such as prayer cards, holy medals, rosary breads, books on Saints, books for children and adults. Rosa Mystica is a wonderful resource that is available to every parish.
Key to fostering vocations is time spent praying for them in Adoration. Many have discovered their vocation during adoration or they have become aware of their calling, because of their close relationship with the Eucharistic Lord.
It would be wonderful if every parish had a set time for adoration for vocations. This would become a very fruitful devotion for our diocese.
Some parishes have the practice of the 40 hours devotions, once a year, another highly recommended practice.
The Diocesan Novena Masses for priestly vocations concludes on or around the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A different group from the parish each week can be responsible for the preparation of the Mass. It can involve the whole parish as well as the school and college. It is a wonderful opportunity for the Celebrant of the Mass to focus on vocations and to talk about his own calling, which is such a powerful thing to do.
The Novena of Masses can be done very simply with every Mass having a Mass intention. Why not offer nine Masses for vocations to the priesthood?
The faithful can also offer their own intentions during the Mass, another effective way of praying for vocations.
Encourage children to pray for vocations, this is a most worthwhile practice. Children’s prayers are powerful and it teaches them about the call that God gives to each person.
Finally our life can become a prayer, offering our sufferings for good and holy vocations especially to the priesthood.
We can all do our part in planting seeds, by encouraging men to explore the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood. Many priestly vocations have grown from a tap on the shoulder, an encouraging word or a question to a man who you see has the qualities of a vocation to the priesthood.
Get your Parish Priest to talk to the groups in the parish,(St Vincent de Paul, Catholic Women’s League, Marian Mothers,) asking him to talk about his call and why he became a priest. Every person has an unique calling from God. Testimonies are powers examples showing how God works in our lives.
Invite the Vocations Director to talk to your parish council or any group in the parish. Each group in the parish can have an interest in promoting vocations. Vocations could be on the agenda of every meeting. The Vocations Director can talk about ways of encouraging vocational work in the parish, prayer initiatives, the process for discerning a vocation and the formation of future priests in the seminary.
There are many wonderful opportunities prepared by the Church and the local Church to encourage vocations. Parishes can use these opportunities to encourage their young people to attend.
Many people have been touched by attending World Youth Day. Besides the blessing of being present with the Pope at Mass and devotions, World Youth Day is a superb opportunity to grow in your Catholic faith and to discover your own particular vocation and calling.
Hearts Aflame is another wonderful Catholic event where many people have discovered what the Lord has planned for them and it has changed their lives.
The Catholic Discipleship College provides formation in Catholic spirituality, prayer, scripture, study and community life, forming people into disciples of Jesus Christ.
In the Hamilton Diocese the Catholic Young Adults Office holds a Frassati Men’s weekend, another amazing opportunity to discover what God has planned for you.
Attending the Vocations Retreat at the end of the year at Ngakuru is highly commended. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time in prayer, listening to talks on the priesthood and vocations. It is a good opportunity to talk to the Vocations Director, other priests and seminarians from the Hamilton Diocese and to mix with men who are discerning their calling.
The Vocations website provides information and resources to encourage and foster vocations for the diocesan priesthood. Vocational work is very much about the Holy Spirit, who moves men’s hearts to serve the Church in a special way in every age so we can all become instruments for the Holy Spirit.
Men of all ages are being called to the priesthood. It is not just about younger men. There are older men being called and widowers. The wonder of a ‘call’ is in the hands of God.