The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, Nov. 3-9. During this week, dioceses across the U.S. lead the efforts in parishes and schools to uphold and encourage the fostering of vocations among the faithful and to pray for those currently discerning a call to ordained ministry or consecrated life.
The prologue of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that those who, with God’s help, have welcomed Christ’s call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. All Christ’s faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer.
In his message for the 2019 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that unlike a secular career, a vocation is a gift born from God’s own initiative: “The Lord’s call is not an intrusion of God into our freedom; it is not a ‘cage’ or burden to be borne. On the contrary, it is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be a part of a great undertaking.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website points out that assisted by divine grace, each person is invited by the Lord to receive the gift of a specific vocation whereby they manifest God’s love in a particular way to the outside world. In the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony, the husband and wife image the Trinity by their communion of love that produces new life; in ordained ministry, priests and deacons are called to minister in the person of Christ, the High Priest and Servant; and in consecrated life, each member is called to bear Christ’s love through a particular charism.
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, said discerning a vocation is a process of learning how to receive the greatest gift God could offer us — “the gift of living in accordance with our true identity as a son or daughter of God.”
The Review this week highlights the annual collection for retired religious and how one Catholic school is praying for vocations through the use of a vocations chalice. A recent section published in the Review honoring priests, deacons and men and women religious for significant anniversaries also tell the stories of the joy experienced by people with such long vocations. Their work for the Church and for others sometimes goes unnoticed but is of tremendous importance.
Jesus’ example inspires us to be zealous about the works of God, even when it is countercultural. We praise and encourage those who pursue their vocation, following God’s will for their lives.