Prayer, education for vocations focus of awareness week

December 25, 2012

HOUSTON — The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week Jan. 13 to 19. The annual event earmarks a time for parishes to consider their role in promoting the role of priests, deacons and religious order brothers and sisters to Catholics deciding on their future.

"National Vocation Awareness Week gives dioceses and parishes across the country a chance to promote vocations through prayer and education," said Archbishop Robert Carlson, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV). "This is especially important in this Year of Faith and as the Church continues to focus on the new evangelization. Vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life are essential in the Church's mission of spreading the joy and love of Jesus Christ. Our world and culture needs the good news of Christ more than ever."

For Vocation Awareness Week, the Archdiocesan office of Vocations is inviting all religious vocation supporters (priests, people who work with vocations at a parish and high school level, volunteers, etc.) to come for a morning of adoration and prayer Saturday, Jan. 12, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Mary Seminary to kick off the week. Adoration will be followed by a social gathering in which they will share what they are doing in their parishes — its purpose is to enrich their lives and each other in their ministry. 

Father Dat Hoang, director at the Archdiocesan Office of Vocations, said the goal for this week, and beyond, is to create more awareness about vocations, and asking people to pray and encourage vocations and to invite young people to consider/enter the religious life.

He said he strongly believes "that there is not a shortage of vocations, in fact there is an abundance, but there is a need to recognize, nurture and bring forth vocations."

Father Shawn McKnight, executive director of the secretariat of CCLV, said research shows more youth consider a lifetime of service to the Church than family and friends realize.

"A recent study found significant interest among never-married Catholics ages 14 to 35 in priesthood and the consecrated life," he said. "We estimate that over 600,000 youth and young adults have seriously considered a religious vocation in the Church. This is good news. The challenge is to pray for them and encourage them to take the next step as they discern God's call."

The study, "Consideration of Priesthood and Religious Life Among Never-Married U.S. Catholics," was conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and commissioned by the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for CCLV. It is available at

Vocation Awareness Week reminds Catholics that they have a responsibility to pray for vocations and to invite young people to consider a call to ordained ministry and consecrated life, said Father John Guthrie, CCLV associate director.

"When someone is encouraged by three or more people to consider a religious vocation in the Church, they are more than five times more likely to seriously consider it, the CARA study showed. We need to be less shy about encouraging someone with the right qualities for religious life to think about it," Father Guthrie said. 

- USCCB and Catherine Rogan contributed to this report.

Other Upcoming Vocation Awareness Opportunities

Jan. 4 to 6 
Men’s Discernment Retreat 
For men ages 18 to 35 who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood. This is an opportunity to set aside some time of silence to listen to the voice of God in your life, listen to inspiring talks and guidance for your discernment process, learn the tools of discernment, sharpen your discerning skills, and have a one-on-one visit with a priest and seminarian. Advance telephone interview required for registration; $30 registration fee, scholarships available; Jan. 4, 5:30 p.m. to Jan. 6, 1 p.m.; St. Mary Seminary.

Jan. 5
Carmelite Monastery
For young women ages 18 to 35 and high school girls grades 11 and 12 who are open to the possibility of a religious vocation. Participants will visit the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in New Caney, Texas, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., including visiting, midday prayer and lunch. Departure from downtown Chancery parking lot at 8:30 a.m.; 2:30 return arrival.

Feb. 3
World Day for Consecrated Life 
11 a.m. Mass at the Co-Cathedral with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo presiding. All are invited to join in this liturgy to pray for all those who have made commitments in the consecrated life, and to thank them. The vowed religious will be invited to publicly renew their commitment during the liturgy.