April 16, 2021

Editorial

Every prayer—including yours—is needed to increase vocations

Mark April 25 on your calendar. It is the day the Vatican and many dioceses around the world—including the Archdiocese of Indianapolis—will celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

In a letter to priests and parish life coordinators, archdiocesan vocations director Father Michael Keucher wrote, “The Church in the whole world will be storming heaven for God to bless his Church with numerous holy vocations!”

And echoing the words of the late Franciscan Sister Norma Rocklage, a longtime educator at Marian University in Indianapolis, he added, “Every prayer counts.”

We’ve editorialized about praying for religious vocations in the past, and we believe those petitions should be offered daily, asking for more holy men and women to minister in our Church.

In this time of pandemic, the ministry they offer cannot be underestimated or unappreciated. We need to offer them thanks for their unwavering commitment to being the hands and feet of Christ to so many.

We understand the challenges priests and religious currently face, spreading the word of God and being present to those desperately seeking assistance.

They serve parishioners, the hungry and homeless and others through countless ministries. But for the past year, COVID-19 has had them ministering to an ever-growing population—those impacted by the coronavirus—some of them living in nursing homes and assisted living facilties, others who are patients in hospitals, still others staying at home because they feel safest without having to step outside their comfort zones.

Pope Francis reminds us vocations to ordained ministry and religious life are all about the gift of being present and giving to others.

“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 pope wrote in his World Day of Prayer for Vocations message released at the Vatican on March 19.

“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,” he wrote.

The Holy Father said religious and priestly life must be filled with the simple joy of caring every day for what really matters—faithful friendship with God and one another.

“I pray that you will experience this same joy, dear brothers and sisters who have generously made God the dream of your lives, serving him in your brothers and sisters through a fidelity that is a powerful testimony in an age of ephemeral choices and emotions that bring no lasting joy,” Pope Francis wrote.

Released on the feast of St. Joseph, the message was dedicated to the saint and “the dream of vocation.” The pope declared a special year devoted to the saint starting on Dec. 8, 2020, to encourage a greater love for and inspiration from Jesus’ guardian and patron of the universal Church.

As the protector of Jesus and the Church, St. Joseph can be a model for all vocations, which are meant to be the “ever-active hands of the Father, outstretched to his children,” the pope wrote.

St. Joseph has “the heart of a father, able to give and generate life in the midst of daily routines,” which is the same aim of vocations, he wrote.

Jesus’ earthly father, the pope said, is one of those gentle “saints next door” whose “strong witness can guide us on the journey.”

The saint’s heart was always listening to God, who spoke to him in his dreams, the Holy Father added.

“This applies also to our calling: God does not like to reveal himself in a spectacular way, pressuring our freedom,” Pope Francis wrote. “He conveys his plans to us with gentleness,” speaking through one’s thoughts and feelings, and unveiling “profound and unexpected horizons.”

Like St. Joseph, we each must find the courage to understand and follow God’s will. In our vocations, the pope continued, “there can be no faith without risk.”

In this Year of St. Joseph, let us each make a concerted effort to pray for more vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

There are resources on the archdiocese’s vocations website at heargodscall.com, including videos, prayer resources, links and other helpful information.

As Father Keucher wrote, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest” (Mt 9:37-38).

May our faith lead us to plant seeds for religious vocations. And through our efforts, we pray that more people will risk truly hearing—and following—God’s call to the priesthood and religious life.

—Mike Krokos

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