Pray for Us Now: A Rosary for Vocations
November 15th, 2011 by vocations

Local listeners of Cincinnati’s Catholic Radio (Sacred Heart Radio, 740 AM and 89.5 FM) might have noticed a change from the end of the summer onwards.  The Rosary as prayed during the ‘devotional hour’ from ten to eleven is now featuring Archbishop Schnurr and priests and seminarians of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, the Archdiocesan seminary of record.

We are very grateful for the work of shepherding this project through by both Fr. Rob Jack, Systematics Professor at Mount St. Mary’s, and Mr. Bill Levitt, Station Manager at Sacred Heart Radio.  Their work has been brought to a wonderful project.  Also, a generous benefactor has endowed the first run of production.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy, please email the Vocation Office at: vocations (at) catholiccincinnati (dot) org.  We will do our best to get them out in a timely fashion.  As of now, we have a limited supply, thanks for your understanding.  There is no cost, but donations for copying and mailing the CD’s would be greatly appreciated.

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Vocation Views, Year B
November 11th, 2011 by vocations

The Vocation Views for use in parish bulletins in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are now linked on the Additional Resources page here.

For a direct link, see VOCATION VIEWS Year B

Please distribute to your parish bulletin administrators.

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Prayer for Vocations: Spanish Version
September 1st, 2011 by vocations

Special thanks to Fr. Tom Hemm, CPPS, of the St. Henry Cluster, for translating our Prayer for Vocations into Spanish.  The english version can always be found here

vocation prayer card in spanish

Click the image above to order copies of this prayer for your parish, school or home.

Oración por las Vocaciones

Padre Todopoderoso,

Tú nos has creado por algún propósito determinado.

Danos la gracia para conocer el camino

que nos has preparado en esta vida

para que respondamos con un “Sí” generoso.

Haz que nuestra arquidiócesis, nuestras parroquias, hogares y corazones

sean terreno fértil para tu don de vocaciones.

Que nuestros jóvenes respondan a tu llamada

con valor y fervor.

Infunde en nuestros hombres un deseo y la fuerza

para ser sacerdotes buenos y santos.

Bendícenos con religiosos consagrados y los que llamas

a la vida de soltero casta, diáconos permanentes,

y esposos fieles

que son signo del amor de Cristo por su iglesia.

Encomendamos nuestra oración por las vocaciones a ti, Padre,

con la intercesión de María nuestra Madre

en el Espíritu Santo

por Cristo, nuestro Señor.  Amen.

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Adopt a Seminarian!
March 30th, 2011 by vocations

It is rapidly approaching the end of the school year for this year’s batch of seminarians and the number of young men waiting to enter next year is just starting to firm up, so this really isn’t the most perfect time to post this for you parish vocation committees out there who are looking for a new idea to spark interest from your parish. However, now is the perfect time to start planning for next school year and this is one of my favorite ideas to propose to parishes: ADOPT A SEMINARIAN!

Having your parish adopt a young man in formation makes the formation process real to the people in the parish and it is relatively simple to orchestrate. Just contact the vocation office! We’ll get you in contact with a seminarian (of your choice or ours) and you decide with the seminarian the details of contact from there. A number of the guys receive letters from various parishioners throughout the year, some receive cards on their birthdays, and most of the time the parish pulls together a care package of sorts to send to him at least once in the year. In exchange, the seminarian will often write letters to the parish to be posted in the bulletin and at least once a year will come to visit the parish for a meet and greet in some form or another.

Through this process the parish gets to know a real person in formation who can tell real stories of life in the seminary and, in turn, receives real, visible support for his formation and discernment while in the seminary. It’s a win-win all around.

Of course, any project like this requires a few general guidelines and these are what I suggest:

  • Respect his time and his privacy:
    • No seminarian will be able to respond to each letter or card he is sent. When writing keep things short and always try to convey a message of support and affirmation for his willingness to give his life for this Church.
    • Let him share what he is comfortable sharing (e.g., his birthday, his email address, his phone number, etc.)
    • Give him plenty of time to plan visits to your parish. He is going to be busy with school and other requirements of his formation process so giving him a few weeks’ notice and several optional dates makes it much less of an “extra obligation” and more of a “great opportunity”
  • As much as you can, get everyone involved:
    • While writing letters is a great activity we often associate with older generations, receiving cards and letters from young and old alike is really helpful to seminarians. They will be ministering to the entire body of the Church: make sure he sees that the entire body is awaiting his leadership and help.
  • Promote this adoption and have fun!
    • Make sure that everyone knows about this seminarian and do your best to introduce him to everyone (again, the use of the bulletin to post his letters to you) and keep everyone up to date on his progress.
    • Seminarians are normal guys with varying personalities. Feel free to ask him about his favorite things to do and some of his favorite stories.

Regarding care packages:

  • Keep it simple – The seminarian is going to enjoy any gift you decide to send his way and will meet it with heartfelt gratitude. Sending an overly elaborate gift might increase the pressure on him and his discernment process and may also gain him the jealous eye of his brothers (in other words, DON’T SPOIL HIM). 
    •  If you’re sending goodies don’t send so many he can’t eat himself or not enough that he can’t share with his brothers. (Also, make sure he is not allergic to the food you plan to send him.)
    • Spiritual bouquets  make great, meaningful gifts, that cost nothing but the sacrifice of time spent in prayer.
  • Keep it practical:
    • If you’re sending “actual” gifts, make them useful: Gift cards (especially for gas stations) are great; if you want to buy books, ask him to create a “Wish List” on Amazon and have parishioners go and select specific ones for him.
    • Ask him if he has any particular hobbies or interests that you can support in some way – even through a donation in his name to his favorite charity
    • If you want to get him liturgical garb (such as an alb), often times it is best to let him tell you what style he likes best so that he will continue to like wearing it long after the gift has arrive
  • Try not to get him something he already has:
    • No matter what you plan to get him, there is no harm in asking him if he already has it. (E.g. many seminarians begin there studies with just the “shorter Christian prayer” version of the Liturgy of the Hours, but others will get the full 4 volume set by the end of their first year. Both groups may want what the other has for various reasons.)
    • Keep in mind that seminarians are often living in dorm rooms with little room to store duplicate things.
  • Don’t ordain him a priest just yet:
    • In all your dealings with him, continue to emphasize that you are praying for him and his discernment process and that you are there to support him in his formation, but a seminarian doesn’t need specifically priestly items until the very last moment. In fact, it is a good idea for the representatives of the parish to be present at the seminarian’s ordination and prepare a gift for him on behalf of the parish (this is when the priestly garb would come in).

In the end, the adoption is not about getting the seminarian really cool stuff, but about showing him, with regular contact, that he means something to this local Church and that people are truly praying for him and are here to support him in his journey of discernment.

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Creating a Culture of Vocations in Catholic Schools
March 23rd, 2011 by vocations

This morning, I had the opportunity to address the principals of all the Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, both grade school and high school.  Here are my remarks:

In prior ages, schools were populated by sisters and priests who taught students.  My parents remember being taught by Sisters of the Precious Blood.  When I taught at Elder High School, there were legends about the time when there were only 2 lay men on staff as faculty.  By the time I taught there, I was one of only two priests.  Times have indeed changed.  In order to build a culture of vocations within our Catholic Schools, we must now rely on the principals and lay teachers to encourage and foster a culture of discernment and vocations in which our young people recognize that each one of them has been given a unique call from God to do something special, and if that student does not do it, it will go undone in the Church and in the world.

To help accomplish this fact, I think the model of seminary formation, with its Four Pillars of Formation, might well be adapted to life in Catholic Schools.  In seminary formation, we talk of human formation (recognizing those unique gifts and talents each candidate presents as a man), academic formation (learning the deep and profound mysteries of our faith), spiritual formation (to be a priest is to be a man of prayer)¸ and pastoral formation (applying all that is studied and learned into the daily life of his future parishioners.)

As I have often said in presentations, what is for the priest, is also for Catholics, if maybe to a lesser degree.  These four pillars can and should Read More

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Why vocation programs don’t work
February 17th, 2011 by vocations

Ever wonder what you can do to increase vocations to the priesthood and religious life?  Serra Clubs are built around the ideal of:





These four pillars certainly help, but unless there is something deeper present, it is just wheels spinning.  What is that source, the spring of water, that empowered Mother Theresa of Calcutta to do what she did?  How did John Paul II work so tirelessly in the mission of the Gospel?  What transformed a simple parish priest into a draw for hundreds of thousands in the person of St. John Vianney?

At their core, they were all first and foremost committed disciples of Jesus.  They sought after holiness as it was appropriate to their state of life.

This, then, becomes the basis for the outreach in all vocation/evangelization programs: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God!”  Then, and only then, will fruit be borne of the Kingdom.

This is the basis of the linked article below, which obviously piqued my interest intensely.

Why vocation programs don’t work.

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Pope Benedict’s ‘Marshal Plan’
February 16th, 2011 by vocations

After the destruction unleashed in Europe during World War II, the US used the Marshal Plan to help rebuild Europe so that such a tragedy would not be revisited upon the continet.

We’ve reached time where there is needed a ‘Spiritual Marshal Plan’ to help rebuild and reawaken Europe and ‘The West’ from the spiritual malaise and destruction that has been unleashed over the last 30 to 40 years.

In taking the name ‘Benedict,’ many have argued that our current Holy Father chose to identify with both the original St. Benedict (of Nursia), the founder of Western Monasticism who saved Europe after the decline and fall of the Roman Empire as well as the most recent ‘Benedict (XV), pope during World War I, who helped walk the Church through a tumultuous time after the loss of the Papal States and moved the papacy into the Modern World.

One of the main avenues, besides speeches during his travels, where Pope Benedict XVI has implemented his ‘Spiritual Marshal Plan’ is during his weekly Wednesday General Audiences, where he has continued to focus on great saints throughout history.  He began with the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church.  He worked through some of the great early medieval theologians and bishops.  A series on great female mystics and saints was just completed.  A new series on the Doctors of the Church has just begun and continues with today’s reflections on John of the Cross.

Don’t take my word for it, Carl Olson lays it out much better than I could, outlining five themes that have found their way into Pope Benedict’s General Audience addresses on the Saints:

Read More

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