NEW YORK — The Province’s Vocation Office is using National Vocation Awareness Week to publicize religious vocations and is urging friars to do the same. Across the United States, Catholic communities will use the time from Jan. 13 to 19 to promote vocations with prayer and education.
This annual event is an effective way to draw attention to the value of religious life and vocations, according to Brian Smail, OFM, vocation director. “When pastors and other friars talk at the local level about vocations, people tend to listen. I encourage friars to talk about why they entered religious life and what they’ve enjoyed about being a Franciscan.”
Last month, Brian’s office distributed a mailing about the event, as it does every year, to pastors, campus ministers and retreat center directors. Selected materials from the SerraUSA kit — a packet of resources for ministry sites, such as suggested intercessions for Mass, bulletin announcements and prayers for vocation — were included. The information was also forwarded to the Province’s regional vocation directors and assistants.
The kit was translated into Spanish and a copy of the selected materials was emailed to pastors of parishes serving Spanish-speaking populations, said Carolyn Croke, vocation office staff member.
“Promoting NVAW is especially important in this Year of Faith and as the Church continues to focus on the new evangelization,” said Archbishop Robert Carlson, chair of the Bishops’ committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, in a Dec. 5 news release. “A recent study found significant interest among never-married Catholics, ages 14 to 35, in priesthood and consecrated life,” said Fr. Shawn McNight, executive director of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
“Vocation Awareness Week reminds Catholics that they have responsibility to pray for vocations and to invite young people to consider a call to ordained ministry and consecrated life,” said Fr. John Guthrie, CCLV, associate director. “When someone is encouraged by three or more people to consider a religious vocation in the Church, they are more than five times more likely to consider it.”
Observance of NVAW began nearly 40 years ago. In 1976, the United States bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for the commemoration. In 1997, it was moved to coincide with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, this year marked on Jan. 13.
As another way to encourage men to think about religious life, the HNP Vocation Ministry schedules events throughout the year. The first in 2013 is at Holy Name College, Silver Spring, Md., the weekend of Feb. 22. Information can be found on the Join Us page of the HNP website. “These Come and See weekends give men an opportunity to visit friars and their ministries, and to learn, in a casual way, what Franciscan life is like,” said Brian.
News from the Vocation Office can be found on its Facebook page, Be a Franciscan.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.