Foster Vocations in the Parish

By Sister Marla Marie Lucas

"Proposing Vocations in the Local Church" is the theme of a letter written by Pope Benedict XVI for the 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations to be celebrated on May 15, 2011. The Holy Father calls on parishes and the wider community to make it a priority to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life. He writes, “It is essential that every local Church become more sensitive and attentive to the pastoral care of vocations, helping children and young people in particular at every level of family, parish and associations – as Jesus did with his disciples.”

Abouna Anthony Salim, pastor of St. Theresa Parish in Brockton with
youth at the Valentine Breakfast hosted by the parish MYO.

He also calls on the Christian community to assist men and women who are being called to serve the Church, especially since they face struggles and resistance in our secularized society. “Particularly in these times, when the voice of the Lord seems to be drowned out by ‘other voices’ and his invitation to follow him by the gift of one’s own life may seem too difficult, every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations.”

The Holy Father, first and foremost, urges that parishes and families pray for vocations. “Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life are first and foremost the fruit of constant contact with the living God and insistent prayer lifted up to the ‘Lord of the harvest’, whether in parish communities, in Christian families or in groups specifically devoted to prayer for vocations.”

In addition, he stresses the need to embrace those who have recognized the “call” with the embrace of the parish family. “It is important to encourage and support those who show clear signs of a call to priestly life and religious consecration, and to enable them to feel the warmth of the whole community as they respond ‘yes’ to God and the Church.”

Perhaps your parish can highlight this year’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations by offering at least one opportunity to respond to the Holy Father’s teaching. Here in the US, our young Maronites have the opportunity to offer their lives in service to the Church as a priest or consecrated religious nun or monk. Prayers for vocations are available on our US Maronite Vocations website, www.vineyardofthelord.com. Also available on this website are video and print resources promoting vocations.