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serra international logoSerra Promotion And Resource Kit
For Vocation Directors and Vocation Promoters


#20. Holy Hours

Watch Video Introduction


The Catholic devotional tradition of Holy Hour has taken on a new dimension with the increasing popularity of priestly vocations as a main intention.

Praying a Holy Hour for an increase in vocations has found some prominent advocates, from associations devoted to Eucharistic adoration to high-ranking Church leaders.  What’s more, reports from various dioceses have told of parallels between the growth in frequency of Eucharistic adoration and the growth in the number of vocations.

The USCCB encourages Catholics to engage in Holy Hour with the intention of an increase in vocations to their respective dioceses and around the world.  Serra has its own customized resources to provide guidance on this to members within their respective chapters—and these resources can also be utilized by any other lay organization within the Church.

Program Outline

  • One-hour devotional
  • Conducted as Eucharistic adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament
  • For small or large groups
  • Holy Hour includes…
    • Songs
    • Readings
    • Time for silent prayer
    • Time for silent meditation and adoration
    • Time for silent reflection
  • Holy Hour for vocations is a popular devotion whose effectiveness has been lauded by Church leaders


20 holy hours impelentation graphic

Serrans / Volunteers

  • Contacting parish officials to get approval for Holy Hour at church
  • Publicizing the Holy Hour for Vocations
  • Preparing Holy Hour leader and participant guide
  • Organizing and leading Holy Hour at church

Program History, Development, and Additional Resources

Holy Hour is a Catholic devotional tradition that dates back to the 17th century and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque of France.  Over the years, there have appeared numerous variations on intentions to be prayed for within the hour-long devotion, which is undertaken by spending an hour in Eucharistic adoration.

The power of such prayer has been extolled throughout the Church; as applied to vocations, Holy Hour has found some prominent advocates.  The Pope John Paul II Eucharistic Adoration Association holds that, “Grace through group prayer puts a great resource within our midst…[i]nspiration from the Holy Spirit guides us to help channel some of this prayerful energy to support our ordained clergy and seminarians, as well as amplifying the call to vocations.”

More generally, the role of laypeople in engaging regularly in prayer for vocations has been emphasized strongly by Church leaders.  In a homily to the faithful of his Archdiocese, Bishop Raymond Goedert of Chicago once remarked, “You have been called to be leaders. Pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. You, the laity, have the power to save the Church!”

Other Resources

Holy Hour of Prayer for Those Called to Priesthood and Religious Life:  Suggestions for Use

Suggestions for Use: The prayers and readings of this Holy Hour may be used in various ways for private devotion, alone or in groups. To extend the prayers and meditations over an hour’s time it is suggested that the oral parts of the holy hour be initiated every ten minutes, followed by silent meditation and adoration.   For example:

  • On the hour:  Opening of exposition or Opening Song/Hymn
  • Five minutes after the hour:  Reading 1
  • Fifteen minutes after the hour:  Psalm
  • Twenty-five minutes after the hour:  Reading 2
  • Thirty-five minutes after the hour:  Gospel Reading
  • Forty-five minutes after the hour:  Intercessions for priestly and religious vocations
  • Fifty-five minutes after the hour:  Closing Prayer and Closing Hymn or close of exposition


Suggested Scripture Readings:

  • Reading 1 Jeremiah 1:4-9  Reading 2 1 Timothy 4:10-16  Gospel John 21:15-17
  • Reading 1 Acts 10:34,37-43  Reading 2 1 Corinthians 11:23-26  Gospel John 21:15-19
  • Reading 1 Colossians 3:1-4  Reading 2 Romans 12:3-13  Gospel John 10:11-18


Partial list of suggested music (from Order for the Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist):

  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Where Charity and Love Prevail
  • Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life
  • Gift of Finest Wheat
  • Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
  • Here I Am, Lord
  • O Jesus, We Adore Thee
  • I Am the Bread of Life
  • Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
  • Lord of All Hopefulness
  • Tantum Ergo/Down in Adoration Falling
  • Panis Angelicus
  • Sing, My Tongue, the Savior’s Glory
  • O Salutaris/O Saving Victim
  • The Servant Song
  • In Christ There Is No East or West

Recommended for use by Most Rev. Peter F. Christensen, Bishop of Superior, WI December, 2009


Holy Hour of Prayer for Those Called to Priesthood and Religious Life



[If priest or deacon opening Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, sing “O Saving Victim/ O Salutaris” or, if Sacrament already exposed or not to be exposed, sing gathering hymn]


Gathering Song/ Hymn______________

Leader:  Praised be God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   Blessed be God forever.

All:  Blessed be God forever.

(Be seated)

Reading 1:   Jeremiah 1:4-9  OR  Acts 10:34,37-43  OR   Colossians 3:1-4

Silent reflection

Leader: Let us pray together from Psalm 34; we will alternate between right and left sides.

Psalm 34:2-11

(R) I will bless the Lord at all times;  praise shall be always in my mouth.  My soul will glory in the Lord that the poor may hear and be glad.  Magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

(L) I sought the Lord, who answered me, delivered me from all my fears.  Look to God that you may be radiant with joy and your faces may not blush for shame.

(R) In my misfortune I called, the Lord heard and saved me from all distress.  The angel of the Lord, who encamps with them, delivers all who fear God.

(L) Fear the Lord, you holy ones; nothing is lacking to those who fear him.  The powerful grow poor and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.    (Kneel or be seated)Silent meditation and adoration

(Be seated)

Reading 2:   1 Timothy 4:10-16  OR   1 Corinthians 11:23-26  OR   2 Romans 12:3-13

Silent reflection


Gospel Acclamation (Sung or omitted)


Gospel Reading:   John 21:15-17  OR  John 21:15-19  OR   John 10:11-18

(Be seated. Oral reflection may be read.)

(Kneel or be seated)

Silent meditation and adoration


Leader: Let us pray to our heavenly Father for priestly and religious vocations.

Leader: O Father, raise up among Christians numerous and holy vocations to the priesthood, to keep the faith alive and guard the gracious memory of your Son Jesus through the preaching of his word and the administration of the Sacraments, with which you continually renew your faithful.  We pray…

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Give us holy ministers of your altar, who are careful and fervent guardians of the Eucharist, the sacrament of the supreme gift of Christ for the redemption of the world.  We pray…

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Call ministers of your mercy, who, through the sacrament of Reconciliation, spread the joy of your forgiveness.  We pray…

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Grant, O Father, that the Church may welcome with joy numerous inspirations of the Spirit of your Son and, docile to His teachings, may she care for vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life.  We pray…

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Sustain the Bishops, priests and deacons, consecrated men and women, and all the baptized in Christ, so that they may faithfully fulfill their mission at the service of the Gospel.  We pray…

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: This we pray to You through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Leader: Mary, Queen of Apostles…

All: Pray for us.

(Adapted from Pope Benedict XVI, March 5, 2006, Message for the 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, May 7, 2006)

(Kneel or be seated)

Silent meditation and adoration


Closing Prayer

Leader: Let us pray.  Lord our God, teach us to cherish in our hearts the paschal mystery of your Son by which you redeemed the world.  Watch over the gifts of grace our love has given us and bring them to fulfillment in the glory of heaven.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

[If priest or deacon closing Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament]


Hymn: “Tantum Ergo/ Down in Adoration Falling,” Prayer, Blessing, Divine Praises


Holy Hour for Vocations (from the USCCB)


After all have assembled, a priest or deacon, wearing cope and humereil veil, brings the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar in a monstrance.  A song may be sung.  He may be accompanied by altar servers with candles.

The Blessed Sacrament is placed on the altar.  The presiding minister then kneels before the altar and incenses the Blessed Sacrament.  The opening song is concluded and a period of silent prayer follows.

Opening Prayer

The presiding minister then goes to the chair, where he prays one of the following opening prayers:

A: (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 1)

Lord Jesus Christ,

you promised always to give your Church shepherds.

In faith, we know your promise cannot fail.

Trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church,

we pray you raise up sacred ministers from your holy people,

that the sacrifice in which you give your body and blood

may be daily renewed in the world until we come to that kingdom

where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

B: (cf. Roman Missal, Mass for Priestly Vocations)


hear the prayers of your people

gathered here before you.

By this sacrament of love

bring to maturity

the seeds you have sown

in the field of your Church;

may many of your people choose to serve you

by devoting themselves to the service of their brothers and sisters.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

After a period of silent prayer, the Liturgy of the Word begins.

Liturgy of the Word

First Reading

A reading from the first Book of Samuel (3:1-10) (LFM 857.3)

During the time young Samuel was minister to the Lord under Eli,

a revelation of the Lord was uncommon and vision infrequent.

One day Eli was asleep in his usual place.

His eyes had lately grown so weak that he could not see.

The lamp of God was not yet extinguished,

and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord

where the ark of God was.

The Lord called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”

Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”

“I did not call you,” Eli said.  “Go back to sleep.”

So he went back to sleep.

Again the Lord called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.

“Here I am,” he said. “You called me.”

But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son.  Go back to sleep.”

At that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord,

because the Lord had not revealed anything to him as yet.

The Lord called to Samuel again, for the third time.

Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am.  You called me.”

Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the youth.

So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,

‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”

When Samuel went to sleep in his place,

the Lord came and revealed his presence,

calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

The word of the Lord.

All:  Thanks be to God

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 16:  1-2a and 5, 7-8, 11)  (LFM 859)

Response:  You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;

I say to the Lord, My Lord are you.

O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup.

you it is who hold fast to my lot.

R:  You are my inheritance, O Lord.


I bless the Lord who counsels me;

even in the night my heart instructs me.

I set the Lord ever before me;

with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.


R:  You are my inheritance, O Lord.

You will show me the path of life,

fullness of joys in your presence,

the delights at your right hand forever.

Guide me Lord, along the everlasting way.

R:  You are my inheritance, O Lord.


After a period of silent prayer:

Gospel Acclamation

(Jn 15:16)  (LFM 860.3)

R:  Alleluia, alleluia.

I chose you from the world; go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel + A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

(1:35-42)  (LFM 861.7)

John was standing with two of his disciples,

and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,

“Behold, the Lamb of God.”

The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.

Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,

“What are you looking for?”

They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher),

“where are you staying?”

He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying,

and they stayed with him that day.

It was about four in the afternoon.

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,

was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.

He first found his own brother Simon and told him,

“We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Christ.)

Then he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said,

“You are Simon son of John;

you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

The Gospel of the Lord.

All:  Thanks be to God


At the conclusion of the last reading, a priest or a deacon preaches the homily, which is then followed by a period of silent prayer.


Standing at the chair, the presiding minister invites the people to pray:

Presiding Minister:  God chooses those whom He wills; let us pray the Lord to send forth workers into his vineyard.

All:  Lord, we trust in you.

Deacon or other Minister:  As you called Abram to be the father of many nations, inspire young people to answer your call.

All:  Lord, we trust in you.

Deacon or other Minister:  As you called Moses, tending the flocks of Jethro, provide worthy pastors to your flock in our day.

All:  Lord, we trust in you.

Deacon or other Minister:  As you called Aaron to serve your temple, call men to serve your Church in the image of Christ.

All:  Lord, we trust in you.

Deacon or other Minister:  As you spoke to awake Samuel with your call, open the ears of your chosen ones.

All:  Lord, we trust in you.

Deacon or other Minister:  As every High Priest was taken from among men, so call men to offer the holy and living sacrifice.

All:  Lord, we trust in you.

Deacon or other Minister:  As Elisha was anointed by the prophet Elijah, give those you call strength to follow you without looking back.

All:  Lord, we trust in you.

Deacon or other Minister:  As you called the Apostles to be ambassadors for Christ, so sends us fervent preachers to strengthen our spirits.

All:  Lord, we trust in you.

After a period of silent prayer:


The following reading may be read by a minister:

Pastores Dabo Vobis (1)
The Church should daily take up Jesus’ persuasive and demanding invitation to “pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mt. 9:38).  Obedient to Christ’s command, the Church first of all makes a humble profession of faith:  In praying for vocations, conscious of her urgent need of them for her very life and mission, she acknowledges that they are a gift of God and, as such, must be asked for by a ceaseless and trusting prayer of petition.  This prayer, the pivot of all pastoral work for vocations, is required’ not only of individuals but of entire ecclesial communities.  There can be no doubt about the importance of individual initiatives of prayer, of special times set apart for such prayer — beginning with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations — and of the explicit commitment of persons and groups particularly concerned with the problem of priestly vocations.  Today the prayerful expectation of new vocations should become an ever more continual and widespread habit within the entire Christian community and in every one of its parts.  Thus it will be possible to relive the experience of the apostles in the upper room who, in union with Mary, prayerfully awaited the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14), who will not fail to raise up once again in the People of God “worthy ministers for the altar, ardent but gentle proclaimers of the Gospel” (Roman Missal, Collect of the Mass for Vocations to Holy Orders).

In addition, the liturgy, as the summit and source of the Church’s existence (cf. Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 10) and in particular of all Christian prayer, plays an influential and indispensable role in the pastoral work of promoting vocations.  The liturgy is a living experience of God’s gift and a great school for learning how to respond to his call.  As such, every liturgical celebration, and especially the Eucharist, reveals to us the true face of God and grants us a share in the paschal mystery, in the “hour” for which Jesus came into the world and toward which he freely and willingly made his way in obedience to the Father’s call (cf. Jn. 13:1).  It shows us the Church as a priestly people and a community structured in the variety and complementarity of its charisms and vocations.  The redemptive sacrifice of Christ, which the Church celebrates in mystery, accords a particular value to suffering endured in union with the Lord Jesus.  The synod fathers invited us never to forget that “through the offering of sufferings, which are so frequent in human life, the Christian who is ill offers himself as a victim to God, in the image of Christ, who has consecrated himself for us all” (cf. Jn. 17:19) and that “the offering of sufferings for this intention is a great help in fostering vocations.”

In carrying out her prophetic role, the Church feels herself irrevocably committed to the task of proclaiming and witnessing to the Christian meaning of vocation, or as we might say, to “the Gospel of vocation.”  Here too, she feels the urgency of the apostle’s exclamation:  “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16).  This admonishment rings out especially for us who are pastors but, together with us, it touches all educators in the Church.  Preaching and catechesis must always show their intrinsic vocational dimension:  The word of God enlightens believers to appreciate life as a response to God’s call and leads them to embrace in faith the gift of a personal vocation.

After a period of silent prayer:

Litany of the Holy Eucharist

Lord, have mercy.

R:  Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

R:  Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

R:  Lord, have mercy.

“The Bread that I will give is my flesh for the life world” Jn 6:51

R:  My Lord and my God!

“My flesh is food indeed and my Blood is drink indeed” Jn 6:55

R:  My Lord and my God!

“Take this, all of you and eat it: This is my Body which will be given up for you,”

R:  My Lord and my God!

“This is the cup of my Blood, the Blood of the new and everlasting covenant”

R:  My Lord and my God!

“The cup of blessing that we bless ‹ it is not the sharing of the Blood of Christ?”

R:  My Lord and my God!

And the bread that we break ‹ Is it not the partaking of the Body of the Lord?”

R:  My Lord and my God!

“[Heretics] abstain from the Eucharist, because they do not believe that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins and who the Father in his bounty raised up again.”

R:  My Lord and my God!

“[This Eucharist] has been blessed by the word of prayer instituted by Him, and from it our flesh and blood by assimilation are nourished. This, we are taught, is both the flesh and blood of Jesus incarnate.”

R:  My Lord and my God!

“The seeming bread is not bread, though sensible to taste, but the Body of Christ; and the seeming wine is not wine, though the taste would have it so, but the Blood of Christ.”

R:  My Lord and my God!

“You ought so to partake at the Holy Table as to have no doubt at all concerning the reality of the body and blood of Christ. For what is taken in the mouth is that which is believed by faith, and it is vain for them to respond ‘Amen’ who dispute against that which is taken.”

R:  My Lord and my God!

“Sight, touch, taste are each thee deceived; hearing alone safely is believed.”

R:  My Lord and my God!

The Lord’s Prayer

The presiding minister then sings or says:

Now let us offer together the prayer our Lord Jesus Christ taught us:

All:  Our Father…


At the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, the presiding minister goes to the altar, genuflects, and then kneels.  As he kneels, Tantum Ergo or another suitable Eucharistic song is sung and he incenses the Blessed Sacrament.  After the hymn is finished, he rises and sings or says:

Let us pray.

After a brief period of silence, the presiding minister continues:

Lord Jesus Christ,

you gave us the Eucharist

as the memorial of your suffering and death.

May our worship of this sacrament of your body and blood

help us to experience the salvation you won for us

and the peace of the kingdom

where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

After the prayer, the presiding minister puts on the humeral veil, genuflects, and takes the monstrance. He makes the sign of the cross with the monstrance over those gathered, in silence.


After the blessing, the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the monstrance and brought to the place of reservation.  Meanwhile, the presiding minister may lead those assembled in the Divine Praises.  Each acclamation is repeated by all together.

Blessed be God. [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be His Holy Name. [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.  [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be the name of Jesus.  [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.  [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.  [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the paraclete. [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy. [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.  [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be her glorious Assumption.  [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.  [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse. [All repeat together in unison]

Blessed be God in His angels and in His Saints.  [All repeat together in unison]

After the Divine Praises are finished, the hymn is sung, and the presiding minister and the servers bow to the altar and leave.

Additional Prayer For Private Devotion

Prayer to Mary, Mother of Priests

O Mary, mother of Jesus Christ and mother of priests, accept this title which we bestow on you to celebrate your motherhood and to contemplate with you the priesthood of your son and of your sons, O Holy Mother of God.    O mother of Christ, to the Messiah-priest you gave a body of flesh through the anointing of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the poor and the contrite of heart; guard priests in your heart and in the church, O Mother of the Savior.    O mother of faith, you accompanied to the temple the son of Man, the fulfillment of the promises given to the fathers; give to the Father for his glory the priests of your Son, O Ark of the Covenant.    O mother of the church, in the midst of the disciples in the upper room you prayed to the Spirit for the new people and their shepherds; obtain for the order of presbyters a full measure of gifts, O Queen of the Apostles.    O mother of Jesus Christ, you were with him at the beginning of his life and mission, you sought the Master among the crowd, you stood beside him when he was lifted up from the earth consumed as the one eternal sacrifice, and you had John, your son, near at hand; accept from the beginning those who have been called, protect their growth, in their life ministry accompany your sons, O Mother of Priests.  Amen.

From “Pastores Dabo Vobis” (I Will Give You Shepherds), Pope John Paul II

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