Promoting Vocations via Social Media

Social media posts on vocations-related themes can spark interest, create a culture that normalizes vocation, and ignite conversations to inform and inspire.

Serra Participation

  • Serra clubs can organize, execute, and maintain a social media presence.
  • They can provide liaison with parish officials regarding vocations website and bulletin announcements.
  • Serrans can creating announcements for parish bulletins. See the Bulletin Blurbs and General Intersessions on the Serra website.
  • Holy Hours for the Youth are very positive. Involve them in the prayerful process of adoration of our Lord

Summary

Social media exists to connect people together through content. We share and discuss ideas, lifestyles, and interests. Posting on vocations-related themes can spark interest, create a culture that normalizes vocation, and ignite conversations to inform and inspire.

Program Outline

Most young people are connected to each other and their favorite brands through social networking. These online platforms make sharing content that matters fast and easy. Unless they are browsing Church-related websites, or opening their parish bulletins, they won’t encounter invites to priestly or religious vocations.

Here are suggestions to help young people encounter and share vocations-related content:

  • Create a page on a parish website specifically designated for promoting vocations.
  • Establish social media profiles dedicated to vocations-related content
  • Establish a schedule for sharing pictures, quotes, videos, and resources available online.
  • Invite comments on your social media pages.
  • Always respond to every question, and thank every comment. Demonstrate that an empathetic and intelligent person is present ‘behind’ the page, ready and willing to engage in conversation.

Social networking can feel intimidating when we’re not used to it. The key to successfully sharing content is to understand the intent of the network you are using.

Each social media network has a specific focus, and rewards particular behavior to encourage people to stay on their platform.

Understanding the age and interests of your audience will guide you to choose the right network. It may be that the network you choose is more popular with the parents of young people with potential vocations.

Be intentional about building up a community around your page through understanding your audience. If they are parents, speak to them as such, and provide discussion prompts and resources for them to pass on to their children or loved ones.

Social media is all about networking socially. Build up rapport through collaboration with other fan pages. Show support and endorsement to other brands and parish-related activities.

Collaboration is key. Content drives conversations. And community creates confidence. Be social on social media.

All Year

Lead Time 3-6 months

f

Medium Effort

Medium Cost

Program History and Development

“Discernment is both an informed decision and a spiritual process. Ultimately, the best decision is one where you feel like ‘I’m home.’ This is a place where I am supported and loved for who I am, and where I can grow humanly, grow in love with God and serve others from this community of support. You will find yourself saying, ‘I cannot imagine not being here.’ And they will feel the same about you!”

-From the website of the Sisters of Bon Secours USA

The above quote aptly sums up what might be considered the ‘ideal’ vocation-discernment experience for a young man or woman.  One might say that the quote also encapsulates the type of experience promoters of vocations throughout the Church would wish for their young charges.  Every person on a vocations committee or group or prayer team would want the people they’re praying for to have that experience.

Perhaps the first concrete step toward connecting young people with that experience would be ensuring that the initial invitation to explore a potential vocation comes through loud and clear.  The first places many young people are likely to hear about the possibility of exploring priestly or religious life would be on the Internet or in a parish bulletin.

Among the ‘best practices’ for getting the word out about vocations-exploration opportunities for young people via bulletins and the Internet are 1) using tailored messages within bulletins; and 2) having a vocations-dedicated webpage within a parish website.

Communications experts speak of using the ‘ATM’ formula when beginning any major communications effort—determining the audience, the timing, and the message.  A short bulletin entry written specifically to young people who might be thinking about a vocation is a good message to employ in any vocations-group effort.  This entry would speak directly to the intended audience via a conversational tone.

Having a dedicated web page within the parish website can be a big boost to your group’s chances of successful outreach to young people.  U.S. Catholic has quoted the statistics of a research group—whose focus of work includes churches—which indicate that fully 56% of 18- to 30-year-olds (i.e., members of the so-called ‘Millennial’ generation) check out a parish’s website prior to visiting its church.   Indeed, the websites of many parishes around America have dedicated pages for their parish vocations committee; these sites are used to post everything from basic information about the committee and its mission to specific dates and times for special events, such as Focus 11 gatherings and seminary visits.

What’s more, the use of social media (e.g., Facebook) as a vocations platform is on the rise—as exemplified by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), which uses multiple Facebook accounts and Twitter feeds as well as Instagram to promote vocations.  Dioceses—including Los Angeles and Dallas—have begun to utilize social media for vocations, too.  This method of outreach can be especially effective in connecting with increasingly tech-minded young people.

Resources

Reference Materials

Vocation Seeds is a weekly vocation message based on the current liturgical cycle, prepared by Serrans at Toronto West Serra Club (notably Anthony and his wife Ann) and distributed to all 240 parishes in the Archdiocese of Toronto in Word format so that they may be “copied and pasted” into parish bulletins or website or Facebook pages, etc. The Vocation Seeds messages are vetted annually by the Vocation Director of the Archdiocese of Toronto prior to distribution to all parishes.
Vocation Seeds [Word document]

PDF document from St. Patrick’s Church (Yorktown Heights, New York) listing ten things that people in each of the following categories can do to promote vocations—includes mention of the use of bulletin to promote vocations:
Ten Things that People Can Do to Promote Vocations [pdf]

List from the USCCB titled 20 Ways to Promote Vocations in your Parish or School:
USCCB: 20 Ways to Promote Vocations

Example of a vocations committee page from a parish website. This is that of a parish in Wichita:
Wichita: Vocations Committee Page

Webpage of the Diocese of Portland (ME) on which is listed a comprehensive strategic vocations plan—this plan can be studied and used a ‘best practices’ material in the case of a parish that is trying to better form a plan for vocations outreach:
Living out a Vocation of Service

PDF of article (“Using Social Media to Further Vocation Goals”) in HORIZON, the journal of the National Religious Vocation Conference, written by a religious who was among the pioneers of using social media as a regular part of vocations-related outreach within religious orders:
Using Social Media to Further Vocation Goals [pdf]

Vocations-oriented Facebook page of the Sisters of Bon Secours (MD):
Sisters of Bon Secours (MD) Facebook Page

Twitter feed of the Sisters of Bon Secours (MD):
Sisters of Bon Secours (MD) Twitter Feed

Vocations-dedicated Twitter feed for the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) of Canada & United States:
Society of Jesus (Jesuits) Twitter Feed

Vocations-dedicated Facebook page for the Vocation Office for the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits):
Society of Jesus (Jesuits) Vocations Facebook Page

Vocations-dedicated Instagram account for the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) of Canada & United States; this account contains excellent examples of effective visuals (created by graphic designers) to be used on this social media site:
Society of Jesus (Jesuits) Vocations Instagram Account

Vocations-dedicated Facebook page of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (CA):
Archdiocese of Los Angeles (CA) Vocations Facebook Page

Vocations-dedicated Facebook page of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis (IN):
Archdiocese of Indianapolis (IN) Vocations Facebook Page

Vocations-dedicated Twitter feed of the Archdiocese of Dallas (TX):
Archdiocese of Dallas (TX) Vocations Twitter Feed

Tennessee
https://tennesseeregister.com/internet-social-media-crucial-to-reaching-people-discerning-vocation/

National Catholic Reporter
https://www.ncronline.org/news/religious-orders-say-social-media-use-spurs-more-interest-vocations

From the National Religious Vocations Conference (NRVC)—The key thing they mention is the need for a prayerful and great vocation directors.
https://nrvc.net/528/publication/913/article/1392-best-practices-in-vocation-promotion

Serra SPARK Helpers©

Parish Bulletin Clips from The USA Council of Serra International, which can be copied and pasted right into any parish bulletin for use in promoting vocations there:
USA Council of Serra International Parish Bulletin Clips [docx]

Bulletin Blurbs and Mass General Intercessions.  The following are the bulletin blurbs and general intercessions for the 2023-24 Liturgical Year.  The MS Word files may be downloaded and customized for your parish:
Bulletin Blurbs 2023-2024 English
Bulletin Blurbs 2023-2024 Spanish
General Intercessions 2023-2024
General Intercessions 2023-2024 Spanish

“We must be focused on building a stronger culture of vocations in each
of our local dioceses to help each Catholic realize that we all have a responsibility to invite young people to consider
if God is calling them to the priesthood or religious life.”

Archbishop Robert Carlson

of Saint Louis, 2016