By Fr. Marty Goetz
“Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.” (Mt 9:38)
About a month ago at the Convocation following the Chrism Mass, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson affirmed and challenged the priests of our diocese. His words were powerful and inspiring. But there is one thing Bishop Kicanas said toward the end of our day together that really touched my heart: “The church is more than its priests. But there can be no church without priests to celebrate the Eucharist.”
Deep down we all know that.
This coming Sunday the Diocese of Davenport will join other Catholics throughout the world to celebrate “World Day of Prayer for Vocations.” So often on my journeys throughout the diocese I have people come up to me and share with me how faithful they are to praying for the gift of vocations. But then they wonder if prayer is enough. Is there something more they could be doing?
Prayers for vocations ought to be part of our normal habit of prayer. As we lift up to Jesus our loved ones and friends, so too we should be asking Jesus every time we pray and celebrate Eucharist for more vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life. It all starts with prayer, but it doesn’t end there. We also need to be living our Catholic faith and be proactive in asking our children and grandchildren if they have ever considered a vocation to priesthood or religious life. And why shouldn’t we be asking?
I have a tradition at the end of Mass when I’m helping out at a parish to ask the altar servers if they have ever considered a vocation. Sometimes I even ask those children and teenagers sitting in the front pews. Most of the kids I ask say they have thought about a religious vocation. Then I ask them: “If Jesus calls you to priesthood or religious life, will you say yes?” Most of the time the answers come a little slow and sometimes I embarrass them, but after some thought, they say YES!
I invite you to join me and others across the Diocese of Davenport to truly pray for the gift of vocations by attending one of our 24 Holy Hours of Prayer for Vocations. There is an ad on Page 10 in this issue of The Catholic Messenger with the times and places that have been scheduled thus far. And if your parish isn’t hosting one this year, I encourage you to attend one close to you. Come with your children to pray. Invite someone you think might have a priestly or religious vocation. Just think of the power of our prayer for vocations if each church were filled with faithful people lifting up their hearts and spirits to God asking for more priests, religious and deacons!
In promoting this year’s “World Day of Prayer for Vocations,” Pope Benedict said: “Our first duty, therefore, is to keep alive in families and in parishes and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer. Dear friends, do not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and doubts; trust in God and follow Jesus faithfully…”
A challenge not just to the priests of our diocese, but to each and every one of you.