“The calling or destiny we have in this life and hereafter. God has created the human person to love and serve Him; the fulfillment of this vocation is eternal happiness. Christ calls the faithful to the perfection of holiness. The vocation of the laity consists in seeking the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will. Priestly and religious vocations are dedicated to the service of the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation.”
— Catechism of the Catholic Church
In advance of National Vocations Awareness Week, observed Nov. 3-9, we bring stories of retired women religious, students who pray for vocations with the help of a chalice, and a personal vocation story from a priest.
Prayers for vocations
St. Clement of Rome is among numerous schools and parishes that use a vocations chalice to promote vocations to the priesthood, religious life
Early on a Monday morning, sixth graders piled into the front pews at St. Clement of Rome Church for Mass. It was a regularly scheduled Mass, but the students were there on a special mission: to pray for vocations.
At the end of Mass, sixth-grader Steele Chrissman came forward to receive a golden chalice, contained in a simple glass display case. Senior associate pastor Msgr. Timothy Cronin gave them their instructions: “It will be your duty this week to hold and use this chalice with respect, to pray for vocations and to encourage those who have been called to follow Christ as priests, deacons, brothers or sisters. The harvest is rich, but the laborers are few. May the Lord bless you and your class this week as you take the chalice with you. Return it next week filled with prayers for holy vocations.”
Such has been the tradition at St. Clement of Rome School in Des Peres for the past several years. Each week a different class attends Mass, receives the chalice and then places it on display in the classroom, while they commit to praying for religious and priestly vocations throughout the week. It builds upon an identical parish tradition in which families volunteer to receive another chalice each Sunday at Mass, bringing it home to pray for vocations.
St. Clement is among a number of parishes and schools in the archdiocese that use a vocations chalice as a way to increase awareness of vocations to the priesthood and other religious vocations. During the week of Nov. 3-9, the Church in the United States celebrates National Vocations Awareness Week, during which the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life are promoted through prayer and education efforts. According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, in 2018 there were 36,580 priests in the United States, 18,291 permanent deacons, 44,117 religious sisters and 3,897 religious brothers.
In a column in this week’s Review, archdiocesan vocations director Father Brian Fallon wrote that in inviting people to discern priesthood and religious life, “the greatest way we can do this is by inviting people to first grow in relationship with Jesus, become His disciple, then listen and respond to the particular way the Lord wants us to serve.”
Beyond prayer, Father Fallon said that seeing examples of the priesthood or religious vocations is equally important. After Mass at St. Clement, sixth-grader Nick Strohschein told his classmates that he’s thought about becoming a priest someday, thanks to the influence of his grandfather’s cousin, Msgr. James Pieper, a former pastor at St. Clement.
For the past several years, the Serra Club of St. Louis has provided vocations chalices to parishes and schools with the hope that they will serve as a tangible way of remembering and praying for future vocations to the priesthood and other religious vocations, said Jeanne Fluri, a St. Clement parishioner and vice president for programs with the Serra Club of St. Louis. In all, the organization has distributed about 25 chalices locally in the past five to six years. The two chalices at St. Clement were donated by the Knights of Columbus at the parish.
Fluri said that the program continues to expand to other parishes and schools, but most important, “prayers for vocations continue to grow.”
>> Vocations resources
National Vocation Awareness Week, celebrated this year Nov. 3-9, is an annual weeklong celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations. For more information and resources, visit bit.ly/1wTGjd0.
In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, for information on priesthood or religious vocations, visit the archdiocesan Office of Vocations at www.stlvocations.org or archdiocesan Office of Consecrated Life at www.archstl.org/office-of-consecrated-life.