Sunday 3 May is World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
As one of the priests of the Melbourne Vocations Team, people will sometimes ask, ‘What is the secret?’ or ‘How do you “get” vocations?’ or ‘How do we encourage the young men in our parishes to consider what the Lord may be calling them to?’ I have no magic wand, nor a quick-fix formula.
But Pope Francis, in his Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, gives the necessary first step to anything we do to encourage and promote vocations to the priesthood or religious life. It all comes back to one thing.
The Holy Father writes:
'There can be no promotion of vocations or Christian mission apart from constant contemplative prayer. The Christian life needs to be nourished by attentive listening to God’s word and, above all, by the cultivation of a personal relationship with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration, the ‘privileged’ place for our encounter with God.'
The fourth Sunday of Easter each year, ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’, is the day when the universal Church highlights vocations to the priesthood. This day reminds us that each person has a role to play in encouraging vocations.
The words of Pope Francis remind us very clearly that prayer is our necessary first step. It is God who does the calling. A supernatural call requires a supernatural response. The prayer of any one of us could be enough to echo the call of the Lord in the heart of a young person. As the Pope in his Letter says, ‘Jesus makes the seed grow.’ The prayer of each reader will make a difference, in the Lord’s time and way.
The Melbourne Vocations Office is very much committed to encouraging the apostolate of prayer, in addition to our other works in schools, parishes, communities and in various online formats. Some of our works include the following:
A brochure and prayers designed specifically for those who are sick or elderly or unable to fully participate physically in the life of the local parish. The prayers invite the elderly or sick person to intercede for vocations to the priesthood.
Serra International Monstrance
The Monstrance for Eucharistic Adoration, blessed by Pope Benedict XVI, is available to parishes and communities for Adoration and prayer for vocations. The monstrance comes witha variety of prayer formats that can be used by different groups. Pope Francis described Eucharistic Adoration as the ‘privileged’ place of encounter with God.
The Good Shepherd Network
A resource designed for parish prayer groups or others to pray for our current seminarians and vocations. The brochure contains photos of all the current Melbourne students and suggested prayers for each day, and can be used by individuals or groups.
Sequitur magazine is designed to assist young people in their discernment and future. Designed primarily for tertiary students, it is a helpful resource for anybody seeking to further their relationship with the Lord.
E-News is a monthly electronic newsletter for those considering a vocation, with suggested readings, prayers and details of upcoming events.
Vocations News is published electronically quarterly and gives an update of the activities of the Vocations Office.
The St John Paul II Prayer Book was created for World Youth Day in 2016 and is very popular with young people.
In addition to the above, the Vocations Team actively visits schools and parishes to encourage prayer for vocations and to provide resources. We also have a monthly gathering ‘Quo Vadis’—for enquirers, with Adoration, Mass and a meal.
For further details of resources and activities, go to melbournepriest.com or the Vocations Melbourne Facebook page. To obtain any of the resources referred to, contact the Vocations Office at email@example.com.
Fr David Cartwright is Vocations Director of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
This article previously appeared in Melbourne Catholic.