October 31, 2018 // National

Young people encouraged to encounter Christ’s call

WASHINGTON — The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week Nov. 4-10. This annual event is a special time for parishes to foster a culture of vocations for the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life.
Pope Francis, in his message for the 2018 World Day of Vocations, emphasized that it is at the loving initiative of God, and by His personal encounter with each of us, that one is called. “Even amid these troubled times, the mystery of the Incarnation reminds us that God continually comes to encounter us. He is God-with-us, who walks along the often-dusty paths of our lives. He knows our anxious longing for love and he calls us to joy. In the diversity and the uniqueness of each and every vocation, personal and ecclesial, there is a need to listen, discern and live this word that calls to us from on high and, while enabling us to develop our talents, makes us instruments of salvation in the world and guides us to full happiness.” 

National Vocation Awareness Week, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, is designed to help promote vocation awareness and to encourage young people to ask the question: “To what vocation in life is God calling me?” Parish and school communities across the nation are encouraged to include, during the first week in November, special activities that focus on vocation awareness and provide opportunities for prayerful discernment.

Contemporary society is often saturated by constant activity and noise, so it is important this week to encourage young discerners to take time for silent, contemplative prayer. Results of studies conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate note that 72 percent of those ordained to the priesthood or solemnly professed within the last year cited participation in eucharistic adoration as a prayer experience that proved influential in their discernment. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations echoes this finding, stating: “Quiet reflection and prayer are essential elements for vocational discernment. It is in the interior depths of our heart where we hear the voice of Christ, where He speaks to us, and where He reveals His will for our lives.”

Observance of Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for the celebration. It was later moved to the feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January. The USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations moved the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week to November to engage Catholic schools and colleges more effectively in this effort.

More information and resources for National Vocation Awareness Week, including a prayer card, are available online at: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/national-vocation-awareness-week.cfm

Information provided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Statistics on recent vocations to religious life and the priesthood

The majority of women’s and men’s communities have at least one person in initial formation

• Since 2009, the majority of religious institutes have at least one person in formation: 66 percent of women’s institutes and 80 percent of men’s institutes.

• Since 2000, 93 percent of all religious institutes have had at least one serious inquirer and 79 percent of all religious institutes have had at least one formal applicant since 2000.

Characteristics of ordinands and those newly professed to religious life


Average age for discernment is 19 and for entrance 30


More diverse, reflecting the increasing diversity in the U.S. Catholic population as a whole


The majority of those entering religious life are highly educated


The majority participated in parish ministry prior to entering formation


Entrants lack familial support; influenced by a sense of call, example and encouragement of others

A parent’s prayer for vocations

Loving and Generous God,
it is You who call us by name
and ask us to follow You.
Help us to grow in the Love
and Service of our Church
as we experience it today.

Give us the energy and courage
of Your Spirit
to shape its future

Grant us faith-filled leaders
who will embrace Christ’s Mission
of love and justice.

Bless the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
by raising up dedicated and generous leaders
from our families and friends
who will serve Your people as Sisters,
Priests, Brothers, Deacons and Lay Ministers.

Inspire us to know You better
and open our hearts
to hear Your call.

We ask this through our Lord.


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