Joining in Prayer for Vocations

Brian Smail, OFM In the Headlines

For nearly 50 years, people around the world have been commemorating the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Below, the Province’s vocation director shares information and thoughts on the importance of building a culture of vocations. His office has produced a prayer card that is being distributed to Provincial ministries to draw attention to the need to pray for vocations.

The 49th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated on April 29, the Fourth Sunday of Easter. This year’s theme is “Vocations: the Gift of the Love of God.”

Instituted in 1964 by Pope Paul VI, this event calls on all of us to pray for vocations and to foster a “culture of vocations” in today’s Church. Regarding this year’s theme, Pope Benedict writes, “Every specific vocation is in fact born of the initiative of God; it is a gift of the Love of God! He is the one who takes the ‘first step,’ and not because he has found something good in us, but because of the presence of his own love ‘poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. In every age, the course of the divine call is to be found in the initiative of the infinite love of God, who reveals himself fully in Jesus Christ.’” The Holy Father goes on to say, “Brothers and sisters, we need to open our lives to this love. It is to the perfection of the Father’s love that Jesus Christ calls us to every day.”

Addressing the need to build a culture of vocations, Pope Benedict notes, “The task of fostering vocations will be to provide helpful guidance and direction along the way. Central to this should be love of God’s word nourished by a growing familiarity with sacred Scripture, and attentive and unceasing prayer, both personal and in community; this will make it possible to hear God’s call amid all the voices of daily life.” He also talks about the important role of evangelizing to young people as means to foster vocations.
smail11Addressing educators in particular, Benedict says, “Dear brother bishops, dear priests, deacons, consecrated men and women, catechists, pastoral workers and all of you engaged in the field of educating young people: I fervently exhort you to pay close attention to those members of parish communities, associations and ecclesial movements who sense a call to the priesthood or to a special consecration. It is important for the Church to create the conditions that will permit many young people to say ‘yes’ in generous response to God’s loving call.”

To call attention to this year’s observance of this important event, the Province’s Vocation Office is mailing out “pray for vocations” prayer cards to all Holy Name Province ministries this week for distribution among the friars, in parishes, on college campuses and the like. The front of the prayer card shows a photo of all the students currently in formation.

I strongly encourage friars to use the Sunday homily on April 29 to preach on vocations. It is an excellent opportunity to share their own vocation stories and to encourage young people to consider a call to the priesthood and religious life.

— Fr. Brian has served as director of the HNP Vocation Office since fall 2007.