|Kelly Colangelo with Sister Marla Marie at a youth rally.|
By Kelly L. Colangelo, Youth Minister of Immaculate Conception Church, Fayetteville NY
Just recently, I was in a room full of high school youth and a religious sister asked, “How many of you have a vocation?” I looked around --- everyone stood there not sure what to do and maybe 1 or 2 people raised their hand. She then added, “All of us have a vocation.”
From an early age, people would often ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In first grade I wanted to be a princess…in 6th grade I wanted to be a lawyer…in 11th grade I wanted to be a psychiatrist…Then, it dawned on me, the problem with asking ourselves this question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” is that it leaves out Jesus. We should be asking “What does Jesus want for me?” or “What life will bring Jesus the greatest glory” and then we ultimately can say, “I want what Jesus wants.”
As Catholic youth leaders in our circle of influence we are responsible to teach and uphold the Gospel of Truth reflected in our ministry. We serve as an important tool in the Church and the lives of young people as they determine their life’s direction. "Every Christian community, every member of the church needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations…" - Pope Benedict XVI
Below are some suggestions to help you promote vocations and create awareness in your parishes. Those who often feel they might have a vocation sometimes hesitate before answering the Lord's call. These ways provide opportunities to dialogue with those considering a vocation to priesthood or religious life, and to support them in as many ways as possible.
1. Sponsor a parish Eucharistic Holy Hour for Vocations on a regular basis
2. Promote prayer for vocations to the priesthood and religious life in your parish through the General Intercessions at Mass.
3. Include “Vocation Blurbs” in your parish bulletin
4. Encourage and lead young people to pray to the Lord for discernment in their vocation. Is the Lord calling me to priesthood, religious life, married life, or the single life?
5. Keep the parish pamphlet racks well stocked with vocation related materials and display vocation posters throughout the parish and school buildings
6. Begin a "Vocations Crucifix Program" among the families in your parish. Booklets and prayer aids can be found on the web.
7. As youth leaders and parish vocation promoters we can promise our own daily prayers and sacrifices for an increase of vocations.
8. Host a "Vocation Panel" during your Life Night. Have door prizes, refreshments, scavenger hunt and speakers.
9. Have your Life Teen or Edge group send care packages to seminarians at time of midterms or finals. Invite seminarians to speak at parish programs while home on their breaks from study.
10. Publish a listing of all the seminarians, with names and seminary addresses. Encourage your Life Teen/Edge group and parishioners to send them cards and letters showing support and prayer. Some parishes feature one seminarian’s name and address in the bulletin each week, to keep this activity continuous.Next time you ask a young person what they want to be when they grow up…add, so what do you think God wants for you!
“The care of vocations, therefore, demands a constant “education” for listening to the voice of God.” -Pope Benedict XVI