This April 17 marks the World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2016. The purpose of this special day is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction to “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2). While appreciating all vocations, the Church concentrates its attention this day on vocations to the ordained ministries (priesthood and deaconate), to the Religious life in all its forms (male and female, contemplative and apostolic), to societies of apostolic life, to secular institutes in their diversity of services and membership, and to the missionary life, in the particular sense of mission “ad gentes,” Latin for “to the Nations.”
Leading up to World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Fr. Joseph, Lacey, SJ, and the parishioners of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Church in Woodstock, Md, are holding a special prayer service and rosary to pray as a group for all men and women discerning a call to Religious life, and that more may heed that call when they feel it in their hearts. The parish is also starting a Vocation Ministry that will work to support and promote a culture of vocation throughout the parish community.
“The purpose of the Parish Vocation Ministry is to inspire and assist the community of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez in fostering a culture of vocation that makes discerning and accepting the vocation that God has for each of us a spiritual priority,” said Fr. Joe Lacey, SJ, pastor at St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Church. “In particular, we want to encourage young people to develop the skills to discern their vocation and to provide resources and information about all vocations.”
Fr. Lacey includes the following prayer from Pope Francis’ message on vocations in each Sunday bulletin throughout the Easter season leading up to the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
LORD of the Harvest,
BLESS young people with the gift of courage
to respond to your call. Open their hearts
to great ideals, to great things.
INSPIRE all of your disciples to mutual love
and giving – for vocations blossom in the
good soil of faithful people.
INSTILL those in religious life, parish
ministries, and families with the confidence
and grace to invite others to embrace
the bold and noble path of a life
consecrated to you.
UNITE us to Jesus through prayer and
sacrament, so that we may cooperate
with you in building your reign of mercy
and truth, of justice and peace. Amen
- Pope Francis
Fr. Chuck Frederico, SJ, vocation director for the Maryland and USA Northeast Province Jesuits, believes that the increase in recent years to those exploring a call to the priesthood, and more specifically the Jesuits, is due in part to the excitement and example of Pope Francis. “We are seeing more and more young men inspired by the Holy Father,” said Fr. Frederico. “They’re excited about the Catholic Church and, because of the example of Pope Francis, they want to learn more about the Jesuits.”
Fr. Lacey urges us all to pray for a continued increase in vocations, adding that our daily prayers can be as brief and simple as the prayer of the faithful we offer at Mass every Sunday: That the call to ordained, religious and lay ministries will be welcomed by young women and men in our Church.
We are all called to spread the Good News of Christ. We pray during this World Day of Prayer for Vocations that more will answer the call and begin their journey of dedicating their lives to others and the Church.