Vocation Awareness Week offers opportunity to support those discerning

WASHINGTON—The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, November 1-7. This observance, sponsored by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, is a special time for parishes in the U.S. to foster a culture of vocations for the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life.
Pope Francis, in his message of April 26, on the 52nd Day of World Prayer for Vocations states; “Responding to God’s call means allowing Him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind, and to strike out on the path which leads to Jesus Christ, the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness.” The Holy Father stresses, “The Christian vocation, rooted in the contemplation of the Father’s heart, thus inspires us to solidarity in bringing liberation to our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest.”
National Vocations Awareness Week is designed to help promote vocation awareness and to encourage young people to ask the question: “To what vocation in life is God calling me?” Parish and school communities across the nation are asked to include, during the first week in November, prayer and special activities that focus on vocation awareness.
“The epistolary readings at Sunday Mass recently have been from the Letter to the Hebrews, expounding on the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Priests are beset by weaknesses and so need the prayers of the faithful. That the faithful pray for priests is humbling to the priest but certainly a blessing,” said Father Matthew Simmons, vocations director for the Diocese of Jackson. “Please pray for priests and seminarians that they be conformed to the likeness of Christ the Shepherd. Also, actively encourage those men whom you would like to see conformed to the likeness of Christ for service in the Diocese,” added Father Matthew.
“Encouraging others to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to follow Christ without reservations are key elements in supporting a culture of vocations,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
“With God’s grace, we can have a positive impact on others who may be open to considering a vocation to priesthood or religious life, by simply inviting them to think and pray about it. Our enthusiasm and willingness to speak directly to others about vocations just might be the conversation someone need to respond to God’s call.”
A 2012 study, “Consideration of Priesthood and Religious Life Among Never-Married  U.S. Catholics,” conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), highlighted the role community encouragement plays in the discernment process. Find the full study online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-andteachings/vocations/survey-of-youth-and-young-adults-on-vocations.cfm.
“Over and over again when asked, newly ordained priests and newly professed men and women religious, credit the encouragement of family members, coworkers, friends and clergy, as being a significant factor in their pursuing a vocation.” said Fr. Ralph O’Donnell, USCCB’s executive director of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
Observance of Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for the celebration. It was later moved to Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January. The Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations moved the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week to November to engage Catholic schools and colleges more effectively in this effort.
More information and resources for National Vocations Awareness Week, including a prayer card, suggested prayers of the faithful and bulletin-ready quotes are available online at www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/national-vocation-awarenessweek.cfm
(Copyright © 2015 Catholic News Service/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news services may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to, such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method in whole or in part, without prior written authority of Catholic News Service.)