Mission of a Parish Vocation Committee
The Second Vatican Council recommended all parish communities to further a vocation awareness in their parishes. We cannot create a “vocation”; only God can do that. But a few hardworking parishioners can, through well planned programs, make the whole community more “vocation conscious.”
The Parish Vocation Committee will be more effective in its work in the parish if it has written goals and objectives, agreed-upon assignments among members, and a written calendar of events. The Pastor of the parish should be acquainted with and approve the plans of the committee. It is also recommended that a Parish Vocation Committee work under the framework of the Parish Council, since such an arrangement helps with the coordination of all parish-wide efforts. It is important that priests and religious act as motivators for the committee and be available as knowledgeable resources.
Eight to twelve members has been suggested as the most effective size of the committee. It is valuable to have a wide variety of parishioners, priests, lay and religious teachers, married couples, senior citizens and youth, to insure that the plan touches all members of the parish family. A chairperson should be chosen from among the membership to assume responsibility for leadership by chairing meetings and assigning responsibilities.
A permanent file should be kept on all committee activities. This should include all minutes of meetings, correspondence, and written notices regarding the vocation work. Reports each quarter on the activities should be sent to the Pastor, the Parish Council, and the Diocesan Office of Vocations.
As well as assisting in making the parish members more vocation conscious, the Committee must remember to pray for vocations and increased understanding of all vocations. Committee prayer should be a part of all meetings.
Procedure for Developing a Parish Vocations Committee
As Catholics, in the past we have been spoiled by the number of men and women who have chosen to heed the call to religious vocation. This trend has diminished. Members of the Church today must recognize this reality and create an awareness of the importance of encouraging God’s people to serve as priests, sisters, brothers and deacons – even as laity – in full-time Church ministry.
Like Samuel, some of the people in our family and parish may have a call from God, but are unable to hear or understand what our Lord is asking us to do. Let us pray and encourage each individual to hear this call.
How to Start a Parish Vocations Committee
It is important that there be a full understanding of the need, purpose, and responsibilities of the Parish Vocations Committee.
- Need: To provide an atmosphere in the parish in which all eligible people may carefully consider priesthood or religious life as a possible calling for themselves.
- Purpose: To assume responsibility of creating this climate of vocation awareness in the parish.
- Responsibilities of Committee Members:
- Individual Responsibilities of Committee Members
- To pray daily for increased vocations;
- To become aware of the various ministries of the Catholic Church, particularly the priesthood and religious life;
- To offer support and encouragement to priests and religious within the parish;
- To provide example through personal Christian family life as a means of encouraging vocations.
- To accept and carry out assigned tasks and to report on the progress of assigned work assigned. Tasks could include working with other parish committees, such as:
Parish Elementary School
Altar and Rosary Society
Knights of Columbus
Holy Name Society
Parent Teacher Organization
Christian Family Movement
Marriage Encounter groups
Lay Eucharistic Ministers
- Committee Activities:
- To encourage parishioners to pray for, learn about, support, and recruit vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
- To provide opportunities to develop vocation awareness through various parish structures already in existence.
- Sponsor a vocation discernment night for the parish youth; invite young people to have dinner with the parish priest to discuss vocations.
- Sponsor a program like Called By Name.
- Encourage Parish Prayer for Vocations.
- Sponsor a parent night and discuss vocations and invite the diocesan vocation team.
- Hold a week long parish vocation camp in the parish for young people similar to a vacation bible school.
- Invite individual men and women to consider the priesthood and religious life.
- Encourage the pastor to preach on vocations; celebrate World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Vocations Awareness Week.
- Host a Vocation Fair, and promote and publicize Vocation Retreats and other vocation office activities.
- Work with the Youth Minister, DRE and School to have special programs on Vocations.
- Collaborate with the local Serra Club on vocation outreach.
Reprinted from: “Future Full of Hope, A National Strategy For Vocations To The Priesthood And Religious Life In The Dioceses And Archdiocese Of The United States.” Bishops’ Committee On Vocations, 1996.
- Individual Responsibilities of Committee Members
Possible Components in a Vocation Recruitment Plan Region/Parish Resources
Repetitive Public Prayer
- When the Mass readings are related to vocations (for instance, the Gospel may include Jesus’ command to pray for laborers for the harvest) or when it is the feast of an apostle or a saint who was a priest, deacon, brother, or sister, take advantage of this to promote vocations. Plan a homily, communion reflections, and hymns about God’s call, specifically the call to ordained ministry, vowed religious life or lay ecclesial vocation.
- When praying general intercessions, remember to add a petition for vocations and for perseverance for priests, deacons, religious and other ecclesial ministers.
- Promote prayer for vocations by sending a traveling vocation crucifix, candle, chalice, statue, etc. from family to family along with vocation prayers to pray each day. The religious symbol may be passed on each week after a particular Sunday liturgy.
- Begin a special prayer campaign for vocations. You might have a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, hold a prayer service, pray the rosary, or pray the diocesan vocation prayer at Sunday Masses.
- Encourage parents (grandparents) to pray that one or more of their children may become a priest, vowed religious, etc.
- “Adopt a seminary” – school groups, parish groups, parishioners, and families to ‘adopt’ a seminarian to pray for.
Personal Contact or Exposure
- Celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week (January), the World Day for Consecrated Life (February), and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations (May). If the Archdiocese provides materials, use them, or develop your own.
- Support vocation activities sponsored by your Archdiocese of religious communities in your Archdiocese. Publicize the activities to possible participants (letters, bulletin announcements, parish newsletters, announcements at the end of Mass). Pray for their success.
- Hold a Vocation Fair one Sunday to give parishioners the chance to meet and talk informally with priests, religious, deacons or seminarians. Offer donuts and coffee. Enlist a group to help plan the affair, and invite the Archdiocesan Vocation Office and Vocation Directors of the various religious orders to set up displays. Involve school children and families by sponsoring a poster or essay contest, skits, or other projects.
- Invite priests, religious, deacons, seminarians or religious in formation to speak about their vocations after parish Masses, at parish missions, and other appropriate occasions.
- Visit a seminary with interested men (and their parents).
- Visit a religious community with interested men and women (and their parents).
- Identify persons in your parish who have potential vocations and ask them for approval to send their names (and addresses and phone numbers) to the Vocation Office.
- Sponsor a program like “Called By Name” inviting parishioners to recommend names of potential priests, deacons or religious.
- Invite a priest, deacon, seminarian, religious, or novice to speak about their vocations at various parish group meetings (Youth Groups, Young Adult Groups).
- Create a vocations corner in your church. Keep it supplied with posters, prayers, information about priesthood, diaconate, religious communities, seminaries, and other material related to vocations.
- Celebrate ordination anniversaries, feast days, and birthdays of priests, deacons, religious, seminarians, and people in religious formation who come from your parish.
- Post photos and bios of priests, seminarians, brothers, sisters, deacons and people in religious formation who are from your parish or who work in your parish.
- Regularly publish feature articles about a priest, deacon, seminarian, religious or person in religious formation in parish bulletins or newsletters.
- Collaborate with Serra Clubs and Knights of Columbus in vocation awareness and support activities.
- Include Vocation Office link and vocations information on parish website.
- Put Vocation Office announcements in parish bulletin and newsletters.
- “Vocation Views”
- Seminary Days and Weekends