It seems just about everywhere we turn nowadays there is a month, week, day, color, or animal attributed to “raising awareness.” The Catholic Church is not apart from this as well as we have our own “awareness” events, weeks, and attributes. One of my favorite topics that the Church asks us to bring awareness to is vocations. The week of January 13-19, 2013 is dedicated for National Vocation Awareness week. To read about it more specifically click here.
Certainly we have all heard of the “vocations crisis” our Church is facing today but I think we often focus on the word “crisis” more than “vocation.” We have a knee jerk reaction and make decisions out of fear of lack of vocations rather than looking at what we can do to foster more vocations.
So . . . ask yourself, “What am I doing as a youth minister to bring awareness to vocations? What are we doing at our parish to bring awareness to vocations?”
Our Bishops are asking us to specifically pray for vocations to the religious life, consecrated life, priesthood, and diaconate. It’s very obvious when looking at a yearly study of what/how/when current seminarians in the U.S. began thinking, motivated them, or finally clicked when thinking about their own vocation. You can read the entire survey here.
We cannot ignore one fact, that 53% of ordinands last year came from a youth group (page 23). This is fact alone implies that we don’t just suggest talking about vocations but that it is our youth ministry duty! Here are specific things you can start today in your ministry to help bring awareness for vocations:
- Pray during Mass have specific prayers of the faithful including intentions for vocations (see the link above, they are already written!).
- Pray aloud for vocations at Edge/Life nights during intercessory time.
- Enroll your teens in a lay religious order/secular order with blessed scapulars.
- Pray before the blessed Sacrament and the Holy Rosary . . . two experiences most Seminarians where they felt God’s call.
- Invite Seminarians to your youth events, relational ministry opportunities (but don’t let them pay!).
- Ask a seminarian, Novice, or deacon to share their vocations story at a Life night
- Ask priests, sisters, or Seminarians to join the Core Team
- Invite priests, seminarians, and religious to join you on retreats
- Encourage single Core team members to pray about and maybe even find a SD. They may be called to it too!
- Bring teens to your local Diocesan seminary and or monastery
- Take your teens to World Youth Day & Steubenville Conferences (two experiences that most Seminarians helped foster their vocation)
- Invite them to talk to a Spiritual Director
- Know who your Diocesan Vocations director is and invite him to celebrate Mass at your parish
- Affirm your local religious and priests for their work by hosting a dinner, congratulating them on their Ordination day anniversary, and birthdays/special occasions.
Finally, be honest about the struggle. When I was discerning the call to join seminary I broke up with my girlfriend (now wife, thankfully!) three times before discerning it was not my calling. So many young men and women are confused, lonely, and looking for someone to pray with and talk about their vocation. Be understanding and not pushy with them about the sometimes challenging decision to make a commitment to enter seminary or religious life. These are only a few of the hundreds of ways to bring awareness to vocations. Begin today so that the crisis of today can be filled with vocations tomorrow.