Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Are we Encouraging or Discouraging Vocations?

"Now is the time for all good Catholics
to come to the aid of their Church."

Over and over again I hear the phrase "happy priests attract more young men to become priests." While I agree with this phrase and the corresponding phrase for brothers and sisters too, I was recently reminded though that we religious are not able to do all of the encouraging alone. All Catholics need to encourage those young men and women they know to consider a vocation as a priest, brother or sister. I think many young people need to hear someone tell them something like, "I noticed these qualities that you have and was thinking it would be good for you to use them as a religious priest. Pray about it and know that I'll be praying for you." And if nothing else good Catholics should not be discouraging are young people from pursuing their call to the religious life.

I recently spent the afternoon speaking with one of my nieces who at only 12 years old surprised me with an interesting vocation conversation.  She told me, "I have decided to become a nun."
"Wonderful news!" I replied. She then said, "I am glad that you said that, I actually was hoping you would because when I told Grandma and then my Godmother they both told me it was not a good idea to be a nun because 'I would not be happy living all alone as a nun.'"

Both her Grandma and Godmother are good church going Catholics. And they are the ones who told her not to consider that vocation because they assumed she would not be happy. How many other vocation aspirations have been discouraged by family members who told their children or grandchildren to look for a different vocation where they would find happiness.

Did you know that nine in ten men who were recently ordained (90 percent) said that they were encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life. Therefore we can say almost all of these men indicated that they received some kind of encouragement during their discernment process and not all coming from a vocation director. Two out of three (67 percent) say they were encouraged by a parish priest. Other frequent encouragers include friends (46 percent), parishioners (38 percent), and mothers (34 percent). Corresponding stats of encouragement can be found for brothers and sisters as well! It is God who calls but often the message is conveyed through others.

Are you encouraging or discouraging vocations in your family, school or parish?

Stats come from  "The Class of 2013: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood" an annual study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

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