In the January Edition of Clergy Communications, the internal newsletter to priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati, makes the following statement:
As many of you are aware, I am very committed to fostering vocations to priesthood and religious life. Shortly after my arrival in the Archdiocese, we initiated the Andrew Dinners; and I am very grateful to those priests, deacons, and others who have encouraged young men to attend these dinners. In the past two years, we have seen the number of our college seminarians increase from four to eleven.
During the past months, I have also spoken in a number of parishes, schools, and conferences on the topic of vocations. My basic theme has been the importance of creating a culture that fosters vocations to priesthood, religious life, holy marriage, and a chaste single life.
An important factor in building such a culture is prayer. Three years ago, when Pope Benedict XVI visited our country, one of the questions posed to him concerned what more can be done to foster vocations to the priesthood. He responded:
Let us be quite frank: the ability to cultivate vocations to the priesthood and religious life is a sure sign of the health of the local Church. There is no room for complacency in this regard. God continues to call young people, it is up to all of us to encourage a generous and free response to that call. On the other hand, none of us can take this grace for granted.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers. He even admits that the workers are few in comparison with the abundance of the harvest (cf. Mt. 9:37-38). Strange to say, I often think that prayer – the unum necessarium – is the one aspect of vocations work which we tend to forget or to undervalue!
During my first year as the Bishop of Duluth, I introduced a Vocations Prayer and asked that it be recited in every parish at every weekend Mass and, if possible, at every weekday Mass. The people responded very favorably. Even today I hear from seminarians, as well as young priests and religious, who state that it was the Vocations Prayer that sparked the thought of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
This year’s theme for Vocation Awareness Week (January 9-15, 2011) focuses on the disciples’ request of Jesus to “teach us how to pray.” In that vein, I would like to introduce a regular prayer for vocations in all parishes of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Enclosed please find a Vocations Prayer that I have drafted in collaboration with our Vocations Office. I ask that it be said at all weekend Masses, and where possible at all Masses, in every parish of the Archdiocese. I realize that some parishes already have their own vocations prayer, and for that I am very grateful. If those parishes wish to continue using their own prayer, that is acceptable although there is a real benefit to having one prayer with which all of our people can become familiar.
My recommendation is that the Vocations Prayer be used to conclude the general intercessions. Once the general intercessions have been prayed, the people could be invited to join in the recitation of the Vocations Prayer. This means, of course, that copies of the prayer will have to be made available to the people. Some parishes have addressed this need by pasting copies of the prayer on the inside cover of the parish hymnal.
The Lord of the harvest will not fail to hear and answer our prayer. Please know of my gratitude for your attention to this request.
With prayerful best wishes, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati
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