Province Increases Visibility as Churches Commemorate Vocation Week

HNP Communications Features

NEW YORK — As churches across the United States recognized National Vocation Awareness Week this month, Holy Name’s vocation office continues to increase its visibility among men interested in joining the Franciscan Order.

This increased awareness comes at anappropriate time, as the Catholic Church in the United States celebrated National Vocation Awareness Week from Jan. 11 to Jan. 17.

National Awareness Began in 1976
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which announced the recognition week last December, National Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976, originally on the 28th Sunday of the year. In 1997, the observance was moved to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated on Jan. 11.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the Bishops’ committee on clergy, consecrated life and vocations, said the week is a chance for parishes across the country, “to highlight the gift of vocations in the church through prayer and education.”

“As a church, we recognize the need to safeguard and promote this gift,” he added.

Father James Steffes, the USCCB’s executive director of the secretariat of clergy, consecrated life, and vocations, added, “This week reminds us that it is our responsibility to pray for vocations and to invite young people to consider a call to ordained ministry and consecrated life.”

Holy Name’s Increased Awareness
In December, Holy Name Province began advertising to the public about a career change to religious life through ads in New York City subway trains. Because of widespread interest in the ad, the Province will continue running the ad campaign for another month.

The ad says, “Day Shift, Night Shift: How About a Life Shift?” Vocation Director Brian Smail, OFM, in consultation with Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, has announced that the ad will appear in  subway cars through Feb. 22.

01-22-09-vocation-lgBrian has noticed an increase in the number of people contacting the vocaton office, based on seeing the subway ad.

Last weekend, Brian welcomed several men to a Franciscan experience weekend (FEW) at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. They seemed quite interested in joining the Province, Brian said. All had previously participated in a “Come & See” weekend, at which they received an overview of Franciscan life.

The vocation office has two “Come & See” weekends planned for this winter, on Feb. 13 at St. Anthony Shrine, and Feb. 20 to 22 in New York City.

Brian will be travelling south to several Province ministries to spread the message of his office.

Later this week, he will go to Georgia to present talks at the University of Georgia’s campus ministry and at weekend Masses. From March 20 to 22, he will lead a discernment weekend at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Greensboro. N.C.