Please welcome Fr. Michael Isenberg for the Masses this weekend and Monday. Fr. Isenberg is the new Vocations Director for the Arlington Diocese, a position that involves both recruiting and evaluating seminarians for the diocese and helping people discern their vocations in general. It is thus a good opportunity to address the promotion of vocations to the priesthood. We will address vocations to religious orders in the near future.
As the Vatican II Council said in its decree on the training of priests Optatam Totius (Latin for “the desired of the whole), “The duty of fostering vocations falls on the whole Christian community.” That document goes on to describe central ways of promoting vocations to priesthood. (Perfectae Caritatis, the decree on religious life, has similar encouragement for promoting vocations to religious orders.)
The decree begins by stating that the most important place where vocations develop is faithful and prayerful families. Also crucial for the promotion of vocations are parishes “in whose abundant life young people actively take part.” The decree says that teachers should train their students to discern divine callings and have the courage to carry them out. It then calls upon priests to work with “apostolic zeal” and provide good examples of “humble, hardworking and happy lives.” The decree encourages the establishment of groups that promote vocations, a call that this Diocese has responded to with the Quo Vadis groups for boys, the Fiat Group for girls, and vocations retreats for men and women. For all of the faithful, the decree states that steadfast prayer, works of penance and continual instruction in the faith are also very important in promoting vocations.
Bishops coordinate the Church’s efforts, promote vocations and evaluate the seminarians as they advance. But the bishop alone can only do so much; he needs the help of all of the people to encourage more workers in the vineyard of the Lord.
We thus encourage all young people to think and pray carefully about their vocations and to be involved in the life of the parish. We have here altar boys, a youth choir, and a youth lector and a youth usher; we would welcome more. If anyone is interested in promoting a youth group, that would be a valuable addition. And when people see a young man who may be called to priesthood, or a youth called to religious life,we can encourage them along that path. In so many ways, it is important to promote vocations as part of our
efforts to bring about a new springtime of grace in this area, the nation and around the world.