Pope Francis Encourages Discerners to Follow in the Footsteps of Saint Joseph in Celebration of Annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations
April 21, 2021
The 58th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated by the Catholic Church on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, commonly referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. The World Day of Prayer for Vocations unites the faithful in praying for those currently discerning and living out vocations to ordained ministry and consecrated life.
Last December, Pope Francis marked the 150th anniversary of the Church’s declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the universal Church and proclaimed the Year of Saint Joseph (December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021). In his message for the 2021 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis again turns to Saint Joseph, as a guide for fathers and mothers, both biological and spiritual, who seek to foster the gift of vocation in the hearts of those entrusted to them, saying:
“The Lord desires to shape the hearts of fathers and mothers: hearts that are open, capable of great initiatives, generous in self-giving, compassionate in comforting anxieties, and steadfast in strengthening hopes. The priesthood and the consecrated life greatly need these qualities nowadays, in times marked by fragility but also by the sufferings due to the pandemic, which has spawned uncertainties and fears about the future and the very meaning of life. Saint Joseph comes to meet us in his gentle way, as one of “the saints next door”. At the same time, his strong witness can guide us on the journey.”
Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) stated that Saint Joseph teaches us the value of holy perseverance and patience. “We are living in very challenging times full of uncertainty and fear,” he said. “Yet, Saint Joseph teaches us, especially our young people, that consistent, quiet fidelity to God is what opens our hearts to receive Christ’s grace and peace. In imitation of Saint Joseph, may we entrust our hearts and desires completely to Our Risen Lord.”
In conjunction with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the CCLV Committee released the Ordination Class of 2021 Study, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. A few of the major findings of the report are:
- On average, responding ordinands first considered priesthood when they were 17 years old.
- Two-thirds of responding ordinands (65%) are Caucasian. One in six (16%) are Latino/Hispanic. One in ten (10%) are Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian. And one in twenty (6%) are African/African American/black.
- The four most common countries of origin among foreign-born ordinands are Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Poland.
- Three in five (60%) completed an undergraduate or graduate degree before entering seminary.
- In regard to participation in various activities before entering the seminary, half of all responding ordinands (46%) participated in a parish youth group. A quarter (25%) participated in Catholic campus ministry/Newman Center.
- Nine in ten responding ordinands (93%) report being encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life (most frequently, the parish priest, a friend, or another parishioner).
- Half of responding ordinands (47%) indicate that they were discouraged from considering the priesthood by one or more persons. Most often, this person was a family member (other than parents) or a friend/classmate.
The full CARA report and profiles of the Ordination Class of 2021 can be accessed here: https://www.usccb.org/committees/clergy-consecrated-life-vocations/ordination-classes