By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — To help promote vocations in the diocese, parish and at home, parishioners at Our Lady of Victory Parish have been “adopting” seminarians.
Trish Gallagher, pastoral associate for faith formation and member of the vocations committee, said the program has been in the works for months and was launched earlier in October. “We hope to produce prayer and support for our seminarians,” she said.
Four different prayer cards of each seminarian were produced and placed in the church’s gathering space. Biographies of each seminarian are displayed. “We encourage people to take a card, pray for the seminarian and communicate with him until he is ordained.” Parishioners who adopt a seminarian don’t need to identify themselves.
Deacon Al Boboth, chair of the parish’s vocations committee, said “sometimes when the vocation committee meets, it seems there is nothing to discuss in the way of new ideas. But then the Holy Spirit takes over. From that point on everyone seems to be able to add to this new idea.”
The parish prays for vocations at Sunday Masses and parishioners are encouraged to pray daily for vocations. “Our committee felt that our parishioners might be more effective in praying for vocations if they knew who they were praying for. The idea developed and the next step was to get information on each seminarian through Father Thom Hennen (director of vocations for the Diocese of Davenport). Using the bios and photos of the seminarians, a staff member compiled a display with individual cards so that parishioners could take them home.” Information on how to communicate with the seminarian is included.
Emily and Jake Pries and their children Asher and Adeline adopted seminarian Chris Weber. She remembered Chris from her teenage years in the late 1990s when she and Jake were involved in youth ministry (Jake at St. John Vianney, Bettendorf, and Emily at Our Lady of Victory). As adults, “we’ve helped in youth ministry as chaperones for things like National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) and Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) retreats, and knew Chris through these events when he was a youth minister.”
Adopting Chris as a seminarian is also “a concrete, daily way that we can support vocations in our diocese,” Emily said. “As a busy working mom of two young children, I don’t have a lot of extra time, but I do have time to pray. Praying with my family is something that has been passed down to both Jake and me, so we are happy to pray with our children.”
The family keeps Chris’ seminarian card in the napkin holder on the kitchen table where they eat dinner and pray. “The first time I mentioned praying for Chris to my family, we were sitting at the dinner table and I said, ‘This is Chris. We’re going to pray for Chris …’ and before I could finish why we were praying for Chris, Asher asked, ‘Why? Is he dead?’ So then we talked about how we can pray for people who are very much alive and that we wanted to pray for Chris so that he can do well in his studies and perhaps be a priest in the future! Both kids always add a very loud, resounding ‘AMEN!’ at the end of our prayers!”
The family sent a birthday card to Chris last week. Asher said he would make a Star Wars card for Chris and that Emily could take a picture of each page and send it to Chris’ phone. “I said I don’t have Chris’ phone number, only his email and his address, so we could just send him some regular mail because regular mail is fun to receive,” Emily said.
She envisions her family continuing prayers for Chris and letting him know they are thinking of him and praying for him through cards and emails.
“It is affirming to see people our age who are active in their faith and we believe Chris will make a great priest for the Diocese of Davenport.”