By Fr. Joseph Sia
We at the Vocations Office are always exploring opportunities to build a culture of vocations where everybody is involved in promoting the different vocations that God offers. Of course, we are focused on promoting discernment of the vocation to the priesthood. Prayer, constant and fervent prayer, is a foundation of this endeavor. “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build” (Psalm 127:1). Hence, it is important to call upon God to guide us as we embark on this mission.
A new initiative that the Vocations Office is offering is called the “Vocation Prayer Apostolate.” The idea here is to build a spiritual army of women and men — in particular, those who are homebound or in hospitals and nursing homes — who offer up their suffering for an increase in priestly vocations. At times, those who are infirm at home or in a health care facility may experience worthlessness. Their self-esteem may be damaged by thinking that their limitations can be a burden to others. Or they may be lonely and are grasping to find meaning and purpose during a difficult time in their lives.
As Catholics, we believe that every life at every stage is important and that the dignity of life is not measured by what a person can or cannot do. This is why we vigorously defend the life of the unborn. In the same sense, when persons are physically or emotionally challenged, we profess that they are still beloved children of God created in his image and likeness! They are still members of the body of Christ and can contribute something to help build it up.
Through the Vocation Prayer Apostolate someone who is homebound or ill or in a nursing home simply makes a commitment to pray for vocations to the priesthood, first by acknowledging Jesus’ presence in their pain and sorrow and then offering their suffering for the men Jesus is calling to be his priests. A specific prayer is suggested in a brochure available through the Vocations Office. If your parish already has an active Vocations Committee, you may ask them to help provide copies by sending us an email at email@example.com or by calling (563) 888-4378 to request free copies (or you may contact us directly). A prayer card can also be ordered through the Vianney Vocations website (https://www.vianneyvocations.com/product/vocation-prayer-apostolate-card/).
Perhaps your parish is still brainstorming ideas on how to answer the call of Vision 20/20. May I offer the Vocation Prayer Apostolate as a way to empower those who might be considered the “least among us,” to strengthen those who are weak and to include them in our efforts to build a culture of vocations?
(Fr. Sia is vocations director for the Davenport Diocese. Contact him at (563) 888-4255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)