Many times throughout my work here at the Archdiocese I have been asked about ways to encourage religious vocations in our children. There are many ways to do this, of course, but the best way I have found is to make priesthood and religious life seem real. The best way to do that is to interact with priests and religious as often as you can, and the best place to do that is in your own home.
Recently, my family had the privilege of hosting our pastor and a couple seminarians for dinner. The evening went about as one would expect in house with 6 small children and three guests – adults attempting to talk between the constant requests for attention coming from each of the children. We made it through the meal and eventually, one toy truly caught the attention of our guests and became the center of our evening’s entertainment.
Yes, Legendary Yoda was teaching Father and our seminarian guests how to use the force and to defeat the Dark Side! And the kids were eating it up! The couldn’t believe that a priest and men studying to be priests would be so entertained by one of their toys! (And to be honest, it is pretty cool!) It was a special experience for them. But the fun didn’t stop with the movements and simple phrases of the mechanical toy.
One of the features of Master Yoda is that he answers “Yes or No” questions asked of him. We asked him several ridiculous questions when suddenly Father had the idea of asking him if each of the seminarians was going to be a priest. Much to the seminarians’ pleasure and relief, Yoda responded with an unequivocal “Yes” for both men. Then Father asked a few more questions which may change the lives of my children:
“May I ask you a question, Master Yoda? Will Henry become a priest?”
“May I ask you a question, Master Yoda? Will Julia become a nun?”
“Yes, is the answer I see.”
Of course it is true that our children know that Yoda is a motorized toy and cannot truly predict the future, but this interaction, although it was out of amusement, was a really important moment for them and you could see it in their faces as they lit up when Father mentioned their names specifically. Here’s why:
- Father is a figure that both their parents love and respect (and by extension so do they)
- this interaction was in their home, a place they associate with safety and comfort: hearing that they could be called to the priesthood or consecrated life now can be associated with safety and comfort
- Yoda did respond negatively to other questions (meaning, Yoda could have said “No” and he didn’t)
- Nobody in the room said that Yoda was crazy: they were affirmed not just by Yoda but by Father, the seminarians, their siblings and their parents
So, if you are looking for ways to encourage your son or daughter to consider the religious life here are a couple of very simple suggestions: pray for your children often; make the religious life seem like something normal, as normal as being a doctor or lawyer or carpenter; treat the priest or religious with love and respect; create opportunities for your children to interact with priests and religious, especially in your home. And if you happen to have a talking Yoda toy available, it can make for a very interesting evening.
Last week was National Vocation Awareness Week and it was full of great opportunities to pray together and to learn more about discerning the vocation to which God has called each of us. And the excitement of that week was peaked by the huge news coming out of our local seminary.
With more and more men responding to the call being placed on their hearts through the grace effected by our continued prayers, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West has run out of room and, with the future looking bright, it was time to expand and make room for 30 more men to study at this historic facility! Here is the coverage of the ground breaking ceremony which happened on November 2nd:
This news of an expanding seminary can be quite a shock to those who are still living with the negative view of the priesthood that has been around for almost 20 years here in the United States and one news station took the time to look much deeper and find the source of this rise in vocations is actually coming from the least likeliest of places – millenials:
In addition to that great news and wonderful news coverage, more than 75 communities from across the state of Ohio prayed together during the Statewide Day of Adoration for Vocations on Wednesday. Religious communities, parishes and even Catholic High Schools joined together to beg the harvest master to send more laborers into the harvest. It was a beautiful experience for many:
We had a beautiful holy hour! We had over 15 people in our small convent. – Sr. Ana, OSC from the Sisters of St. Clare Poor Clares
We had a wonderful experience at St. Augustine in Minster. Parishioners commented how much they enjoyed a dedicated hour focused on praying for vocations… – Barb from St. Augustine, Minster, OH
I had some good time to think about and pray for many of the priests and nuns who’ve been a part of my life, some whom I
haven’t thought about in years, and at least one person (the priest who baptized me) that I’ve never met. I also prayed in a special way for my kids and their vocations, some of which have already been discerned, and some which are still in the process. – Joe from Ascension, Kettering, OH
And finally, the Serra Club of Cincinnati was able to complete their 9 day Bible Reading Novena during which they dedicated nearly 12 hours a day in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and recitation of the scriptures for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
These dedicated prayers across the state of Ohio are truly having a great impact on our local church and priestly and religious vocations are seeing a great time of flourishing. May we all continue to pray for our men and women in formation and for each other that we may have the courage to seek God’s will in our lives.
Yesterday, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrated the Chrism Mass. While this is the Mass at which all the holy oils are blessed and dispersed to all the parishes of the Archdiocese it is also the day on which all the priests renew the promises they made on the day of their ordination. Today we share with you an interview with Fr. Tim Fahey who was ordained just less than a year ago. He shares with us his experience of his ordination and his first Mass and also gives some beautiful advice for men discerning their vocation to the priesthood. Please continue to pray for Fr. Fahey and all our priests as they fulfill with great zeal the vocation to which God has called them.
On Friday, March 24, 2017, the seminarians of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West will once again be hosting Vigil Praise, an evening of Eucharistic adoration for people of all ages, including families young and old!
This evening will be led by Fr. Jason Williams who, in addition to presiding over the Rite of Exposition and Benediction, will also be preaching on Mary’s fiat on the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation.
The evening will begin at 7pm and will conclude with an evening social following benediction at 8:00pm. There is no charge for this event!
For more information, click on the flyer image above.
In the coming months, the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West will be hosting two free discernment events for Catholic single men who are discerning a call to the priesthood.
The first event is a Ministry Evening on Wednesday, January 25th. This evening is open to men aged 18-35 and begins at 4:30pm with registration, followed by Mass, dinner, and talks about discernment. If you want to discover who God wants you to be, this is a great opportunity to discern your vocation.
The second event is a Welcome Weekend on March 17th and 18th. This weekend is open to men college aged and older. This overnight experience allows you to meet the faculty, staff and seminarians, pray and attend Mass and learn more about discerning your vocation.
Both of these events provide excellent opportunities to take the next step in your discernment and truly experience the place to where God may be leading you. To register for either event, you can call Fr. Schmitmeyer at 513-421-3131 ext 2890 or use the registration forms linked above.
To see a list of all the discernment/vocation-related events happening over the next several months, please visit the Upcoming Events page.
This weekend offers two fantastic opportunities for people of all ages to praise our Lord in the Eucharist!
On Friday, November 18th, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West is hosting another Vigil Praise event in the St. Gregory Chapel from 7-8 pm with a social following the holy hour. This event is led by the seminarians at Mount St. Mary’s and features a keynote talk by Fr. Eric Wood, a 2015 graduate of the seminary and parochial vicar of St. Francis de Sales, Lebanon and St. Philip, Morrow. He will be speaking on the Year of Mercy and the responsibilities of all Christians found in Matthew 25. This event is open to people of all ages including families!
The very next day, Saturday, November 19th, offers another great opportunity for high school teens to come worship our Eucharistic Lord and to join in a great discussion about most of the permanent vocations of the Church (i.e., priesthood, religious life, consecrated single life and married life) during a Vocation Panel at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Anderson Township from 6-7 pm. The panel discussion, which will take place in Heritage Hall on the IHM campus includes FREE pizza for all participants and chaperones. Directly following the panel is Encounter, the quarterly Eucharistic worship event for high school teens that leads them in an encounter with Jesus Christ and also allows them the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Encounter will take place in the IHM church. For more information and to complete the necessary permission slip, contact your local youth minister or Encounter Cincinnati.
Don’t miss these wonderful opportunities to be close to our Eucharistic Lord and to be challenged by his presence to become the person he has created you to be!
On Friday, September 23, 2016 all are invited to an evening of Eucharistic adoration and fellowship at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West located at 6616 Beechmont Ave. in Cincinnati. The evening will be lead by Fr. Chris Geiger who was ordained this past May as a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and praise and worship music will be provided by the Encounter Cincinnati band along with the seminarians of the Mount. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. The evening begins with adoration at 7:00 and will conclude with a social in the Marian courtyard beginning at 8:00.
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