Tools for Vocation Directors
As parish-level efforts, Adopt a Seminarian programs are a grassroots means for the faithful to encourage, pray for, and provide for the material needs of priests in training. The programs are a great way for families to get involved in supporting seminarians.
This is a program designed to facilitate input from parishioners regarding potential candidates for the priesthood, diaconate, and religious life. Among its main components are a stress, within Sunday homilies, on the need for vocations—and parishioner response cards.
Recognizing the young men and women who serve at Mass has become a popular activity within dioceses around America. There are several avenues for doing so.
With the constant visual reminder of a prominently placed chalice they’ve taken home from church after Sunday Mass, a family (or individual) prays for vocations during a week-long period of time while also writing down their experiences in prayer.
Students in two different grade levels attend a special gathering where various presentations on vocations are made by priests, sisters and other church personnel. It’s an enterprise that’s often referred to as a ‘Vocations Field Trip.’
Trips to seminaries, novitiates, and formation houses can provide great opportunities to young people vis-a-vis to the overall vocations experience. They’re also relatively easy to organize.
One of the most prominent Catholic writers of the 20th century called for including the homebound in the Church-wide effort to pray for vocations.
Saying the Rosary immediately before an ordination Mass is a powerful witness and a great way to answer Church leaders’ call for the faithful to pray for vocations. Includes a Serra-US Council template that will help your group with this effort.
Among the most common vocations-related programs seen today, vocations retreats take many forms and formats—groups or individuals, dioceses or religious orders, and so on. They’re also good ways to introduce people to—or advance them within—the discernment process.
Parish-level. By the people. For the Church. Parish vocation ministries are the bedrock of vocations-related efforts within local churches around the nation.
Planning for each of the annual Church vocation appreciation and awareness events begins with gathering the resources that are prepared and updated by the USA Council of SI Vocations Committee or other organizations providing support materials. Clubs are encouraged to start several months prior to each event. Celebrating Priesthood Sunday and other major vocations-related events during the liturgical year is easier than you might think.
Try these resources for ideas and inspiration!
- Priesthood Sunday (Last Sunday in September)
- National Vocation Awareness Week (First full week of November)
- World Day for Consecrated Life (First Sunday following February 2nd)
- National Catholic Sisters Week (Second week of March)
- World Day of Prayer for Vocations (Fourth Sunday of Easter)
- Religious Brothers Day (May 1)
Whether it’s said on an individual or group basis, the Rosary is a powerful prayer for vocations. Includes two sample Rosaries for Vocations from Serra-US Council.
These prayers are typically brief, and can easily be included in one’s list of prayers before or during, say, Sunday Mass, weekday Mass, or at other times.
With decades of history behind it, the 31 Club is a simple, easily-established program for parishes to use in their vocations-related efforts. It’s an ideal program for the involvement of busy parishioners who want to help with vocations but need to be able to fit it into their schedule.
Quo Vadis Days is a summer camp when young Catholic men, learn more about the priesthood, deepen their faith, and discern God’s call. Staffed by priests and members of the diocese, Quo Vadis Days has been highly successful in sparking vocations.
Technology plays an ever-larger role in sparking vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and deaconate. The materials presented here contain ideas and strategies for leveraging technology to that end.
Ever considered bringing in a seminarian or religious to your parish school to meet with students? It’s an idea that can lead to increased vocation discernment within your school.
A program similar to the Traveling Chalice Program—but focused upon rallying classrooms full of students to pray for vocations for one week during the school year.
Have a parish vocation ministry that needs some wind in its sails? The materials found in this summary can help!
A one-hour devotional conducted as Eucharistic adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, this program can be utilized by small or large groups. Includes a template for Holy Hour for Those Called to the Priesthood or Religious Life—plus two additional prayers.
Ready-to-use vocation talk scripts—for grade school, middle school, and high school levels! Use them as written or modify them to fit your own vocation story.
Video has become, in the age of the Internet, the lingua franca of connecting young people to important messages.
Videos include a brief description and a notation of length and are arranged for men or women in groups by age.
St. Andrew Dinners are named after the apostle who, according to the Gospel of John, took his brother, Simon Peter, to meet Jesus. These dinners give priests the chance to invite men whom they believe to have priestly vocations, or, at least, the qualities necessary to make a good priest, to have a casual, informal dinner and conversation with the local bishop.
Similar events for young women are typically known as Miriam Dinners.
Young people tend to fall away from church after graduating from high school. 80% of Catholic students stop practicing the faith while away at college.
The Newman Connection pushes back against that trend through a national outreach program, working in conjunction with parishes and Catholic high schools to reach the students where they are, connecting them to the campus ministers at their chosen colleges.
A young man standing on the altar next to Father, assisting with the Mass has a unique experience. This time of serving allows the young man to be close to the Eucharist and consider the great gift of the priesthood to the church. Many young men who have served in this role are now in the seminary studying to be priests. This is one of the great benefits of the “Master of Ceremony” program.
There comes a time in every young man’s life when he is called to consider what Our Lord is asking him to do with his life. Many are unsure about how to approach discernment when they feel the stirring of God’s Call to the priesthood. The Melchizedek Project is a great tool for Vocation’s Directors to help young men during this discernment process.
Described as being like “a book club and a prayer group ‘rolled into one,’” Avow is an innovative discernment program for young Catholic women.
The program revolves around small-group discussion, study, and prayer as a means of mutual support for women who want to make the journey of discernment together.
One of the most immersive vocational-discernment experiences currently in existence, the diocesan women’s discernment house is a Catholic household experience exclusively for women who are interested in discerning their vocation while living in community.
Igniting the faithful starts with a spark.
Welcome to the Serra Promotion And Resource Kit (SPARK!) Brought to you by the U.S. Council of Serra International, SPARK is a free online collection of best-practices tools in religious vocations ministry—as curated from parishes, dioceses, and religious orders around North America.
Created by a group of experienced laypeople with a longstanding devotion to the Roman Catholic Church, SPARK covers everything from discernment retreat agendas to vocations talks to using social media in vocations promotion…and much more!
Whether you’re recruiting potential priests, sisters, deacons, nuns, or brothers, you can find a helping hand right here. Nearly two dozen topics are covered. For each topic, you will find:
- An executive summary
- An outline
- A section on the history and development of the topic
- Downloadable resources and templates
- Links to additional resources
- A place to share your comments, questions, and ideas
Need to quickly print something encapsulating our SPARK resource?
If you are new to the vocations ministry, SPARK will help you build a strong, solid foundation. If you are a veteran, SPARK will give you more resources with which to further your ministry. Just click on the ‘TOOLS’ tab above to get started—or use the search bar at the top of this page to enter keywords and find what you’re looking for.
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