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.
March is a very busy time for Vocation directors both at the diocesan level and in religious communities and that means there are a plethora of opportunities for you to take some quality time to discern your vocation both within and without specific religious communities. Check out all these upcoming Spring discernment opportunities and make a plan this Lent to respond to that tug you feel on your heart.
MARCH 9: MONTHLY HOLY HOUR FOR CONSECRATED VOCATIONS
CHOSEN: Monthly Holy Hour for those discerning a Vocation or praying for Vocations – March 9, beginning at 8pm at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood OH. Sponsored by the Archdiocese Vocations Office and the Children of Mary. Chosen: Every 2nd Thursday of the Month. Come and bring a friend!
March 10-12: “Is it I, God? Discerning a Call to Religious Life”
Dominican Sisters of Peace invite single, Catholic women, ages 18-45, to attend a free “Come and See” Discernment Retreat designed to explore contemporary Dominican life for women. Experience Dominican prayer and community with the Sisters, reflect on God’s call for your life and explore contemporary Dominican life as a Sister. The retreat begins at 4:30pm Friday, March 10 and concludes at noon, Sunday, March 12 at the Dominicans Sisters of Peace Motherhouse, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, OH 43219. For more information, call or text Sister June Fitzgerald at 570-336-3991 or email email@example.com. Participants may register online for the retreat or request a registration form at http://www.oppeace.org/thinking-about-religious-life. (Some travel assistance is available on a need basis.)
March 10-12: The door is open…will you walk in? Come and See Weekend
The Sisters of the Precious Blood invite all young women discerning a call to the religious life to learn about life as a woman religious, the meaning of our religious vows, the power of prayer and the reality of community in the life and minister of the Sisters. The retreat runs from Friday, March 10 at 5pm to Sunday, March 12 at Noon. Please register by March 3 to Sr. Patty Kremer, CPPS, Coordinator of Vocation Ministry at 937-609-0653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 10-12: Missionaries of the Precious Blood Discernment retreat
The Missionaries of the Precious Blood are holding a discernment retreat on March 10-12 at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio. Men age 18 or older are invited to attend the retreat, which begins with dinner on Friday and ends after lunch on Sunday. To reserve your place at the retreat or to learn more, contact Fr. Steve Dos Santos, CPPS, director of vocations, at email@example.com or 937-228-9263.
MARCH 12: HOLY HOUR FOR PRIESTLY VOCATIONS
Come to a Holy Hour for Vocations to the Priesthood at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary. The Holy Hour will take place in the St. Gregory the Great Chapel at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, located on the Athenaeum campus, 6616 Beechmont Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45230.
MARCH 17-18: MOUNT ST. MARY’S SEMINARY WELCOME WEEKEND
The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s of the West is once again hosting its annual Welcome Weekend for all men college-age and older who are discerning their call to the Catholic priesthood. The weekend begins at 4:30 on Friday evening and ends with dinner at 6:00 pm Saturday. There is no cost to attend. For more details or to register contact Fr. Schmitmeyer at 513-421-3131 x.2890 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit CincinnatiVocations.org and click on “Events.”
March 17-19: COME & SEE RETREAT: Glenmary Home Missioners
Men ages 15-19 are invited to visit with Glenmary priests and brothers, travel to a nearby mission, and share in community prayer and reflection. They will also have the opportunity to meet other men who are discerning their call. For more details or to register call 513-881- 7411 or email email@example.com.
MARCH 23-25: PONTIFICAL COLLEGE JOSEPHINUM SPRING LIVE-IN
High school aged men who are discerning their call to the priesthood are invited to attend the Pontifical College Josephinum Spring-Live in from March 23-25. Men will have the chance to pray, eat and attend classes with current seminarians as well as get the chance to hear all about life in the seminary and the formation process. All who are interested in attending should contact the vocation office at 513-421-3131 or visit www.pcj.edu/discernment-seminary-life/visit-josephinum/.
March 24-26: Marianist Discernment Retreat
Open to all men and women ages 18 – 30 exploring the possibility of Marianist Religious life. For more information, please contact Sr. Nicole Trahan, FMI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 30-April 1: Congregation of the Holy Cross Come & See Weekend
The Congregation of Holy Cross welcomes high school juniors to a weekend at Old College, the undergraduate seminary on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, March 30 – April 1, 2017. Contact the Office of Vocations at 574-631-6385 or email us at email@example.com for more information.
March 31-April 2: Live Joyfully Retreat
The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods is hosting a weekend discernment retreat for women ages 18-42 at their motherhouse in Saint Mary of the Woods, IN. The retreat is free. Register on line at comeandsee.sistersofprovidence.org. For more details contact Editha Ben at 812-230-4771 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
APRIL 26: R U CALLED: DINNER FOR WOMEN DISCERNING CONSECRATED LIFE
Young women juniors in high school and older are invited to a great discernment opportunity on Wednesday, April 26 from 5-8pm. Women will hear from Sr. Tracy Kemme, SC and Jacquie Lustig, RC as well as from Archbishop Schnurr. They will have the opportunity to visit with numerous religious communities as well as other women in discernment. Register online by clicking the link above.
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!
National Vocation Awareness Week will be celebrated on November 6-12, 2016. This is an opportunity for all parishes to raise awareness that we all have a unique purpose, given to us by God our creator and we must all seek after that vocation with great zeal. In particular, we want to pray for good and holy priests to lead us and provide us nourishment for the journey of our discernment and for good and holy consecrated men and women who can provide for us the vision of the heavenly reality where we all will be united fully with our Creator for all eternity.
This is your one-stop shop for all the resources we have to offer. If you don’t see something you were hoping for, please let us know and we will do our best to provide it next year or find it for your this year!
For all teachers/catechists/youth ministers:
Vocation Lesson Plans: www.vocationlessons.com. Enter the code: CinciVocations513 and gain access to lesson plans for every grade and age level up through high school. These are available throughout the year, so feel free to come back often.
*NEW* Vocation Prayer Card in Spanish: We currently have our Archdiocesan Prayer for Vocations in English and have just received our first shipment of the same prayer cards in Spanish. Please let us know how many your parish requires for Vocation Awareness Week and we will ship them to you immediately!
*NEW* Vocation Prayer Card for Children We now have available a new prayer card for elementary school children. The small prayer card features the image of Jesus with children with the words “Who does God want me to be?” on the front and a beautiful, simple prayer to know my vocation on the back. We are accepting orders for these now and are ready to ship them immediately.
ORDER VOCATION MATERIALS! Use this link to order any of the vocation culture materials we have available in our office. There are several different pamphlets, booklets, books and prayer cards. All materials are available for free and we will do our best to respond immediately to all requests!
The Gift of the Priesthood – This series of videos is available online only and is another beautiful witness to the life of priests in our Archdiocese and the joy they find in living out their vocation. Full Video| Fr. O’Cinnsealaigh| Fr. Fernades| The Seminarians| For Parents (each video is less than 10 minutes)
The Man Behind the Collar – This series created by our office is an engaging set of videos that shows the various aspects of a priest’s life told by three different priests. We still have a very limited supply of these available to parishes or you can view them here. Three Priests| Fr. Brausch | Fr. Fox| Fr. Tozzi (each video is less than 10 minutes)
Fishers of Men is still a powerful and engaging video to show young people who have never considered the importance of a Catholic priest. (about 20 minutes in length)
The Face of Religious Life Today – a video created at the direction of many religious communities who serve the Archdiocese of Cincinnati witnesses to the various types of women and men who have chosen to pursue the consecrated life today. (about 5 minutes)
For Love Alone – A video produced by the Council for Major Superiors of Women Religious shares another group of women who have chosen to follow God’s will in their lives. Here is a 2 minute trailer. (Full video is less than 20 minutes.)
Vocation Panel from NRVC – This long video involves a great conversation with various religious men and women. The video is about 90 minutes in length and has many great insights into religious life.
Statewide Adoration for Vocations: Parishes and religious communities from all over the state of Ohio will be joining together to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life on Wednesday, November 9, 2016. Check out all the details and join us in prayer!
Bible Reading Novena: The Serra Club of Cincinnati will be reading the entire Bible in 9 days of consecutive prayer for vocations beginning Saturday, November 5 and reading daily from 8am-8pm until Sunday, November 13th. At the beginning and after each book they will stop to pray the Archdiocesan Prayer for Vocations as well as the Memorare. The reading will take place in the Chapel at St. James of the Valley in Wyoming. All are encouraged to come join in prayer and reading of the Scriptures.
Here is this month’s Clergy Communications submission from the Vocation Office. Please help us spread the word about all that we are doing to build up the culture of vocations in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. For more information about any of these announcements and events, please feel free to reach out to us or contact directly those listed in the announcements.
New Ordination Videos: For the first time, the Catholic Telegraph and the Vocation Office have each created videos from this year’s ordination. The Telegraph created two different videos, a trailer and a full length video of the Mass, and they can be seen here: www.thecatholictelegraph.com/category/vocations. The Vocation Office video which includes brief descriptions about all parts of the ordination Mass can be found here: www.cincinnnativocations.org/category/video. Please share these on your parish websites and social media outlets.
Looking for Visit Opportunities: The Vocation Office is looking for weekday opportunities to come and speak to students in our parish religious education programs, Catholic high schools and grade schools about discernment and vocations. Please contact Fr. Schmitmeyer to schedule these opportunities for the 2016-17 school year.
Attention All Teachers: Vocation Awareness Packets Available: Each year, the Vocation Office makes available complete Vocation Awareness lesson plans for teachers of all grade levels, both in Catholic schools and PSR programs. These educational materials can be used anytime throughout the school year. All parishes and schools have access to those materials at www.vocationlessons.com with access code: CinciVocations513. Please make a plan to view and use these materials in the 2016-17 School Year.
Important Dates for 2016-17 School Year
- Vocation Awareness Week: November 6-13, 2016
- World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life: February 5, 2017
- National Catholic Sisters Week: March 5-11, 2017 (part of Women’s History Month)
- Diaconate Ordination (Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains): Saturday, April 29, 2017
- World Day of Prayer for Vocations: May 7, 2017
- Priesthood Ordination: Saturday, May 20, 2017
Elder High School Discernment Group: Starting this Fall, the Vocation Office, with the help of seminarian Jarred Kohn will be running an early morning discernment group once a week at Elder High School. This group is open to any student in grades 9-12 who is interested in seeking God’s plan for his life. Each meeting will consist of prayer and discussion on a topic that will help the participant discern more clearly his vocation. All interested men are asked to contact their pastor or Wayne Topp in the Vocation Office at 513-421-3131 x.2891 or email@example.com.
July 8-9, 2016: Junior High Vocation Retreat: On Friday and Saturday, July 8-9, 2016 Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center is hosting a junior high vocation retreat for young men in grades 6-8. Cast Out Into the Deep offers young men an opportunity to learn more about various male vocations in the church, pray in adoration and Holy Mass and meet other young men who are exploring their call. There will also be time for recreation and relaxation. Those interested are asked to contact Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-351-9800 x.302. You can also register at www.olhsc.org. Click here for the flyer.
July 15-17: Glenmary Mission Trip: Starting at Glenmary’s Headquarters in Fairfield, Ohio. Visit with Glenmary priests and brothers. Share in community prayer and reflection. Meet other men 18-46 who are discerning their call. Contact us: 513-881-7411 or http://www.glenmary.org/vocationinfo/. Click here for the flyer.
July 17: Coffee and Conversation: On Sunday July 17, join the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor for their 10am Mass followed by Coffee & Conversation and a small art display at St. Clare Chapel, 60 Compton Rd., 45215. Paintings done by our sisters will be available for a nominal donation. All are welcome! Ruthy75@gmail.com or 513-761-9040 x.132
July 24 – 27: Come and See – Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
Woman between the ages of 18 and 50 discerning a call to religious life? You are invited to be part of a gathering in Cincinnati Ohio to experience the Charism of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Meet many of our Sisters, visit local communities and ministries, learn about our worldwide mission and come to know our founder, St. Julie Billiart. Contact Sister Kristin Matthes by June 30th email@example.com or 240-863-1916. Click here for the flyer.
One of the many questions that a seminarian is asked is “how does one discern God’s call?”, especially to the priesthood. This is a question that for me is hard to answer. Many times people see seminarians as people who have discernment all figured out and mastered. While this would be great if true, seminarians have just as hard of a time figuring out how to discern. This is something that I have to think about and contemplate on a daily basis. It was not until last month that I finally think I can understand discernment better.
Last month, the seminary had their annual retreat down at St. Meinrad Seminary in southern Indiana. The retreat was lead by international writer and speaker, Fr. Larry Richards. This retreat has changed my life in many ways, but one in particular is that of discernment. At this retreat Fr. Larry talked to us about Holiness, and one of the resounding themes is having a relationship with God. Not only just having a relationship with God, but understanding how much He loves us and how we should love Him. This relationship is more that that of two friends, it is so much more than that. This relationship is of a Father and Son. For we were made in God’s image and likeness, and He loved us so much that he sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us.
This relationship is almost indescribable. We are able to cry out to our God saying Abba, daddy, to the very God that created the whole universe and all that is contains. This is where discernment starts. It starts with God our Father. We have to start with crying out to our Father and knowing how much He loves us and desires a relationship with us. Forming a relationship with God is one of the most important steps into having a healthy discernment. No matter what vocation you are called to, one thing will always remain constant within every calling: A loving relationship with God our Father. Through this relationship and love we are able to know Him, walk with Him, know what He is calling us to, and most importantly, are not afraid to do the things that scare us in a particular vocation.
Now, this may seem like an impossible task; we sin, do bad things, say things we shouldn’t, etc. and we make God angry. However, God is not calling us to only form a relationship with Him when we are perfect; quite the opposite actually. God wants us to come to Him in our broken state. God does not just leave us out to dry when we fall; hence why he sent His Son to redeem us and allows us access to the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist. He wants us to depend on Him and know that He can save us from our brokenness.
Many people do not think they can have a good relationship with God and His Son because of their sin. Many have a dictator-like persona of God. There is a very important lesson I learned this year on this very question. It is not that God is mad when we sin because He said not to do it. No, He is worried about us when we sin, and He hates to see us enslaved to sin. God is not someone who sits in heaven wagging His finger at you when you sin, but one who sits in Heaven who wants you not to sin because not sinning will make you happy and is good for you. Sin corrupts us and turns us into slaves of ourselves and evil. God is not out to get us; He is here to love us and help us one day spend eternity with Him. This is an important lesson in forming a relationship with God.
As stated before, this is a relationship with God, and with that means it is something we have to work on. I can tell you that many priests who have been ordained for years are still working on their relationship with God. This is not to scare us however; as a relationship takes time. It helps us to realize a very important point: Vocation is not about ourselves, but for He that calls us. Through this relationship with God we begin to realize what He is calling us to more and more.
To look at priesthood specifically, this call has as it’s root a call from God the Father to a loving relationship with Him and to be an instrument of His love to His Church. This can seem like a hefty job that God calls a young man to do, but to echo the words of Pope St. John Paul II “Be not afraid!” God knows that a young man has to give up certain worldly pleasures for this call, but it is important to note that God calls a young man to the priesthood because He has made Him for that purpose and He knows the young man can do it. This is true for any vocation that God calls people to. God doesn’t call us to something we cannot do; He calls us to what He knows we can do for His Greater Glory and Love.
Now, this may seem like a young man entering seminary must have it all worked out before entering, and that you must have this great relationship with Christ. This cannot be further from the truth. Seminary is a time of formation where you learn new and better ways of forming your relationship with God. These 9 years of seminary are not here because it takes 9 years to learn how to be a priest. These 9 years are here to help form men be rooted in a strong relationship with God and how that translates into priestly ministry. Seminarians work everyday to form their relationship with God, and that means there is no one easy way to do that. Each guy is different. A young men entering may have many doubts, fears, and uncertainty about what this life can lead to. That is normal and every guy goes through that. You are not alone. One may have many fears about God and His love, but through formation a young man is able to discover a healthy relationship with God, the root of any vocation. Let us pray daily that we may accept God’s love and grow closer to Him.
The month of March is National Women’s History Month and two years ago a group of women religious had the fantastic idea to take some of that month to highlight the great history and influence of consecrated women in the history of our nation and of the Church! This year, on March 8-14, 2016, please celebrate with us and your parish National Catholic Sisters Week!
At www.nationalcatholicsistersweek.org you will find the history and purpose of the week, you will find resources to help you get involved in the week, and links to events that are happening across the nation to honor religious sisters.
For more inspiration and bulletin materials, go to www.sisterstories.org. There you can share your own note of gratitude for a religious woman who impacted your life, you can read the vocation stories of several women who have found their joy in following God’s will to give everything as a religious woman, or you can read more about sisters who have had great influence over the years.
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