What is the role of vocation teams in encouraging vocations?
Vocation teams and the Vocation Office share a common mission of raising vocation awareness by educating people and encouraging people to consider whether or not God is calling them to priesthood, religious life, the diaconate or lay ministry. Vocation teams sponsor events, update 'vocation corners' (racks or tables where vocation information is made available) and serve as a first-line resource for people in the parish who have an interest in finding out about vocations. Teams often collaborate directly with the Vocation Office, particularly when the vocation director targets specific districts for vocation visits.
Doesn't a parish establish a vocation team so that the rest of the parish can concentrate on other areas, such as human concerns, religious education and liturgy?
The mission of a vocation team is to help weave vocations into all aspects of parish life. Parishioners are called to use their gifts and talents to serve God through worship and action. When we talk about people being called, we are talking about vocations. For example, vocation teams encourage various committees to invite young people to serve as members and to experience a taste of ministry.
What, specifically, can a vocation team do to help a parish become vocations-oriented?
Establish a vocations corner, so that parishioners can find relevant literature if they are interested in vocations in the Church.
Organize a prayer network for the homebound, provide prayer cards or CDs with vocation prayers and get your parish involved in the Invisible Monastery.
Celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week each winter. For example, sponsor a vocation essay or poster contest, hold a vocation event or workshop; the Vocation Office can suggest creative formats to generate more interest other than a simple panel discussion. Your parish can also support a seminarian through prayer, invitations to homes of parishioners dinner, or tuition help, organize Stations of the Cross for vocations, sign up one family per week to pray for vocations every day during the week, etc....
Serve as a visible resource for parishioners wondering about vocations.
What is the role of parishes in encouraging vocations?
People experience Church in the parish setting, through worship, belonging to the faith community and service. A study conducted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops revealed that multiple-vocation parishes differ operationally from low-vocation parishes. The survey cited four factors with notably positive impact on vocations:
Youth group and service projects
Marian and Eucharistic devotions
Parish elementary school
More than one assigned priest
It is important that Catholic schools and religious education programs teach about vocations (priesthood, diaconate, religious life, marriage and single life) and discernment. The Vocation Office has a website dedicated to vocation lessons for teachers and catechists (click here for more information).
Parishes and clusters should have vocation teams in contact with the Vocation Office who help the parish foster a 'vocations culture' in which young people especially are invited to consider Church vocations among the many career and life choices open to them.