Phase II: Establishing a Presence
Eucharistic Adoration for Vocations
Eighty percent of the newly ordained priests and professed sisters reported that they heard the call to their vocation, or their call was nurtured, in Eucharistic Adoration. Encourage students to storm the heavens with the request for more priestly and religious vocations and for their vocation with the confidence that no prayer goes unanswered.
- A pamphlet or short booklet (two to three pages) can be helpful to guide students in their time before the Blessed Sacrament.
- If the event takes place in early May, consider adding a May Crowning.
- A school could offer Eucharistic Adoration on First Fridays, and teachers could sign up for their classes to attend throughout the day.
We cannot underestimate the power of prayer. Our ministry knew early on that weekly or monthly adoration for vocations would be instrumental in our efforts to bring about a vocation-minded parish and for increasing vocations overall. Praying for vocations before the Blessed Sacrament can be transformative for a parish.
Prayer Card for Men and Women in Formation
Seminarians, and all those in religious formation, face a roller coaster of emotions: thrilled at finding and following their calling, stressed during parts of the education and discernment process, uncertain during times of doubt. There are many influences in the world, both natural and supernatural, that would love nothing more than to bring struggle and doubt during this time. Prayers for perseverance and for these men to remain close to our Lord, especially in the Blessed Sacrament, and to our Blessed Mother are crucial.
- Sample prayer for seminarian or sister: Loving God, I ask for a special blessing and outpouring of the Holy Spirit on (seminarian or sister’s name), whom you have called to be yours. Let his/her vocation grow and develop through a deep spirit of prayer and by following the path of Jesus Christ, your Son. May Mary protect him/her from all harm and, through her powerful intercession, obtain for him/her all the graces he/she needs to grow into the image of Jesus, the high priest. Give him/her the grace to embrace the cross through all difficulties, knowing that faith is made strong through trials. Make the yoke easy and the burden light by keeping him/her ever close to the loving Heart of your Son. Amen. ~ Fr. Victor Perez
- Since it may be difficult for students to keep track of prayer cards, consider posting this or another prayer on a bulletin board for easy reference each day
Prayer for Vocations Calendar
Create a calendar of dates that will keep students focused on vocations. This calendar will highlight typical Vocation Days covered in Chapter 4 and the special days for priests, sisters, and seminarians who were involved with or graduated from the school. These days should be integrated into the school or classroom calendar and used to guide students in their vocation prayers.
- Some examples include: Priest’s birthday, ordination or profession of vows anniversary, parish anniversary, Easter, and Christmas. Other days to add are: World Day for Consecrated Life, National Marriage Week, World Marriage Day, Uplift Your Priest, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Religious Brother’s Day, World Priest Day, Priesthood Sunday, National Vocation Awareness Week, and World Day for Cloistered Life.
The gift of prayer is a beautiful way for children and adults to show appreciation for a priest or religious sister or brother at their parish or school. A Spiritual Bouquet is the offering of a Holy Rosary, Mass, an hour of Eucharistic Adoration, a Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or other personal prayers for another person. These spiritual gifts of prayerful affirmation also balance the more challenging aspects of a priest or sister’s ministry and let them know how much students pray for and appreciate their daily sacrifices.
- The bouquets make wonderful thank you gifts for guests who visit your students.
Traveling Vocations Chalice Program
The Traveling Vocations Chalice Program has been efficacious in bringing about new vocations, especially to the priesthood and consecrated life. The main idea is that a chalice, used in the sacrifice of the Mass, travels from classroom to classroom, homeschool family to another, or one campus bible study to another. It serves as a reminder for students to pray for and think about their own vocation daily while the chalice is in their presence. Not only is this a symbol of the priesthood, but it also promotes the gift of the Eucharist. A binder of age-appropriate prayers accompanies the chalice. This program has the potential to bring about a vocation-minded school, one student at a time.
- Some parishes do not put the chalice inside a case.
- You might want to substitute a traveling statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Holy Family instead of the chalice.
- Include a photo of the chalice in all promotional communication to increase awareness and participation.
Traveling Vocations Cross Program
This activity, similar to the Traveling Vocations Chalice Program, promotes prayers for vocations. Instead of a chalice, a standing crucifix, a cross with an Agnus Dei, or a Holy Family statue travels through the parish school, homeschool co-op families’ homes, and religious education classes. A binder of age-appropriate prayers accompanies the cross or statue.
- Include a photo of the cross in all promotional communication to increase awareness and participation.
This kit designed by the Serra Club contains everything you need to start a Vocations Crucifix program for either your parish or school. Purchase it here.
AWARENESS & EDUCATION
Altar Server Recognition at Mass
Most priests’ first memories of serving the Lord are as altar servers. According to The Class of 2012: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood, an annual national survey of men being ordained priests for U.S. dioceses and religious communities conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), found that three-quarters of new priests were altar servers. As for religious women, a 2014 survey released by the USCCB found that 16 percent of the newly-professed women religious had been altar servers. While not as influenced by serving as boys, serving at Mass is a factor for girls, as well. Altar server activities recognize and reinforce in young people the joy of serving the Lord.
- In addition to recognizing the servers at Mass, this can be done at the end-of-year awards ceremony.
Recognize the most accomplished or longest-serving altar servers with either a Pendant or a pin from Serra International. Buy them here:
Art/Essay Contest for Kids
An art or essay contest allows children of all ages to focus on vocations using any medium they like. The idea is to encourage students to think about vocations in a new way. This project may cover any number of topics, such as “Saying Yes to God!”, “Let Us Remember We Are in the Holy Presence of God,” or “Jesus Came to Serve.”
- Consider posting the winning artwork and essays in the hallways of the school, on social media, and in the school newsletter. — Consider asking students to show their winning artwork or read their winning essays at various parish Masses
- Depending on age of participants and availability of judges, consider whether art is judged—based on categories or alignment with themes—or only displayed.
- Judges may include:
- Priest or religious associated with the school
- Art or English teacher from another school
- President of the pastoral council
- President of the Parent-Teacher Association
- Diocesan Vocation Director
One way to expose all types of vocations to the youth in the parish school, religious education classes, or in youth ministry is by holding a vocations panel discussion. The main idea is to show the children examples of men who love the priesthood, joyful religious men and women, and married couples who strive to keep Christ at the center of their marriage. As often as possible, the youth need exposure to their models of holiness to gain inspiration to live such lives.
- Consider starting any assembly with a short, fun game that will grab the students’ attention.
- For older students, a Panel Discussion (p. 116), in which each person will give his or her testimony and answer questions from either a moderator or the attendees themselves, could be most effective. Ideally, no more than 4-5 persons would be on the panel so that all have an opportunity to speak.
- If the parish has a seminarian studying in a different city or country or a sister in formation far away, consider using technology to virtually bring him or her into the discussion.
- A priest can share the video of his ordination, explaining the different parts of the Mass and how he felt during each.
- A nice gesture after the event is to have the youth in attendance draw cards or write notes of thanks to each guest at the assembly.
- Tell us your name, vocation, order.
- When and how did you hear your call to this vocation?
- What training is necessary for your vocation?
- What do you find most challenging about your vocation?
Many parents, especially those who homeschool, look for Camps for their children that offer a strong Catholic identity. They want the sacraments and prayer to be included alongside the fun activities of a typical summer camp. Counselors and the camp chaplain can guide campers to have fun and go deeper in their relationship with Christ. Attending a camp, especially one staffed with priests and sisters, can lead a child to seek holiness and possibly inspire a religious vocation.
Catholic Schools Week – Vocation Day
Ideas for promotion
- Make an announcement at Masses about activities
- Order/Print out Church Book Rack Materials
- Free copies of Vision Magazine at vocationnetwork.org
- Ask a priest to speak about vocations at Masses
- Ask a priest or sister to
- Give out at Masses/Youth group/religious classes
- Invite married couples to speak to youth group
- Ask priest to bless married couples at Mass
- Suggest to teachers to and show vocation videos to kids
Order resources from www.vocationawarenessweek.com
Use these cute name tags for any activity during the week: VBS Name Tags
Children’s Mass Kit
Many priests say they remember fondly “playing” Mass when they were growing up. They possibly used sheets as vestments and Vanilla Wafers as hosts. Some large families had enough siblings to provide altar servers, lectors, and a few parishioners in the pews to play along. This valuable activity is easy to put into place and will encourage the youngest of parishioners to think about the priesthood as an option for their vocation.
A Mass Kit encourages creative play for your children and grandchildren and allows the Holy Spirit to do a great work in their heart and through what they do best…PLAY!
- Consider including a costume habit of a nun and a nun doll or plush bear with the Mass kit to promote religious life and plastic rosaries to promote holiness.
Youth need to experience the witness of people joyfully living their vocations – married couples, priests and seminarians, and religious sisters and brothers. This is one of the best ways to encourage vocations. If young people see how a vocation is lived with joy, then they will have hope that they can also live that vocation with joy.
Here is an example – seminarians participating alongside youth in a lighthearted game. This sort of joyful interaction can have a very beneficial positive effect on vocational discernment!
- Limit participation to 2-3 visitors at one time to give all an opportunity to speak.
- Consider designating a conference room as a reception area with small finger foods and drinks during breaks.
- Sisters should tour separately from priests. Keeping the different vocations separate will allow for less confusion among the students.
- Have students create thank you notes for guests.
- Invite a priest, religious, and/or seminarians to sing Christmas carols on the day before Christmas break.
Field Day Table
Many Catholic schools have an annual carnival or field day to build fellowship among the students. This fun-filled event is the perfect opportunity to introduce parents and students to vocations. At the event, a ministry can focus on the interaction between priests, religious, seminarians, and the students through games, such as tug-ofwar, arm wrestling, hula-hoop contests, and Vocation Jeopardy. These activities show that priests and religious can be playful and joyful.
- Free candy and handouts help attract attention to your booth.
- Sample booth décor/handouts/prize:
- Plush vocation bear • Vocation pamphlets and brochures “We Love Our Priest” buttons “Priests Rock!” buttons
- “We Love Our Priests!” bumper stickers
- Sample booth activities:
- Photo Opportunity: Priest and nun cutouts for parishioners to place their faces through
- Hula-hoop contest
- Pin-the-Collar-on-the-Priest • Vocations Jeopardy
- Vocations Bingo
- Consider using this opportunity to have students sign a card or gift for a priest for Priesthood Sunday, an upcoming birthday, or ordination anniversary.
Many Catholic parishes have some sort of annual festival to raise funds and build fellowship within their community, which is a perfect opportunity to show your parishioners who your ministry is and what does vocations mean. Share your enthusiasm for priests and religious; play games with the youth. Show them that those living their vocation are filled with joy. Rhonda Gruenewald shares with you a look into their own parish festival Oktoberfest!
Behind the Scenes setting up a Parish Festival Table:
Festival Table in Action:
- Students explore saints of the Church who were married, priests, sisters, or brothers. Use various websites to research a saint’s life, write a report, draw the saint, present a report, or create a digital presentation.
- Ask students to interview a diocesan priest or consecrated person about why they chose their vocation. Write down their responses to share with the class.
- Using only communities and orders represented in the Diocese or region, have the boys research men’s communities, and girls research women’s communities. They should each choose a different community.
- Have the students imagine that they will become a religious priest, brother, or sister later in life. Ask students to write 2-3 paragraphs of their“vocation story.”
Saint of the Day
We are all called to be saints, any faithfully departed man or woman in heaven. Even if we are not canonized, our goal is heaven. Saints’ stories provide a glimpse into Church history and help us understand the often miraculous power of faith. And if we want to be saints, we need to know what makes people, just like us, into saints. This activity might include the teacher presenting the saint of the day each day to the students. Alternatively, the students can research a particular saint of the day to present to the class. The research can be as simple as showing a picture of that saint. A more advanced assignment could be writing a short biography of the saint and presenting it to the class.
Are you looking for a ready-made Vocation Backpack for Girls and Boys that can be signed out from your classroom or the school library, then look no further?
We have assembled the perfect books and bears to put in this cute backpack.
If you want to assemble your own items to put in a Vocations Back Pack, you have come to the right place! Kids will love these cuddly and fun items.
The object of this game is not only to have fun, but also to challenge the youth to think more openly about various vocations. The answer to each question is found in the parentheses at the end of each question. Feel free to use the questions in any order as some are admittedly more difficult than others. Good luck and have fun!
Catholic Saint Bingo is an ideal game for any elementary Catholic school, religious formation or Sunday school class.
The Chosen Final
1:00 (all ages)
Priests of Steel
1:33 (all ages)
11:45 (6th & up)
1:17 (6th & up)
The Catholic Priesthood
2:59 (all ages)
The Gift of Priesthood
9:44 (9th & up)
Why Priesthood?, Fr. John Muir by Life Teen
5:10 (9th & up)
Follow Me: Journeys to Priesthood
13:00 (9th & up)
Five Paths to Priesthood
29:55 (9th & up)
How Should I Discern the Priesthood w/ Fr. Robert Barron
2:12 (9th & up)
The Great John Paul on his Vocation
1:54 (9th & Up)
1:32 (6th & Up)
Religious Sisters (Inspirational and Instructional)
For Love Alone Trailer
17:10 (9th & up)
Beloved: The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia
2:49 (6th & up)
Light of Love
1:06:16 (9th & up)
Catholic Sisters In Their Own Words by Life Teen
5:52 (9th & up)
Jesus Calls Women
28:40 (12th & up)
Explaining Religious Vows to Kids
5:44 (All Ages)
Catholic Family Conference
Having good Catholic influences in our lives helps us to strive for holiness. A Catholic family conference may be a perfect fit for families looking to be surrounded by other families who keep their Catholic faith as a top priority.
A weekend conference can provide a mix of presentations by adults, young adults, and religious. Special programs can address the needs of faith for students in all levels of education. Daily Mass, confession, and Eucharistic Adoration are almost always offered. Additionally, a family can find a wide selection of Catholic gifts, books, music, and more on sale from vendors.
Teachers and principals at Catholic schools can advertise good Catholic conferences to the families at their school.
Check with your diocese or local Catholic media for Catholic conferences.
Today’s youth are not automatically looking to be married as they did in past generations due to many factors in our rapidly changing society. Some students are not witnessing healthy marriages regularly, so showing the vocation of marriage in a beautiful light can significantly impact students. Though this event can take many forms, it is designed for married adults to speak to high school or college students about topics, such as Catholic dating and marriage’s joys and struggles.
Showing the audience wedding pictures or video adds a poignant and light-hearted touch to the event.
Reception for Priests on their Special Days
A school-wide reception can be simple or quite complex depending on the budget and desires of the priest and school. Either way, creating the opportunity for the priests to receive so much love the youth will make this labor of love worth all the effort.
Seminarian/Sister Care Package
Some items besides gift cards that they might enjoy are: Stamps and Stationary, Coffee, Tickets to events in your town (think ballet, symphony, sports), CD’s of Religious Music, Movies or Movie Tickets, Money, Prayer!
See the full list and explanation here.
Here is a bulletin blurb for the Gift Card Collection:
Would you like to thank our seminarians for studying to become priests for our diocese? Consider giving them an early Christmas present by purchasing a gift card to any restaurant, office supplies store, convenient store, Amazon, or VISA gift card. Please deliver your gift cards to the front office by __________. Thank you for your generous support.
Seminarian/Sister Signing Day
Seminarian/Sister Welcome Back Gift
Lord, Teach us to Pray
Lord, Teach us to Pray: A Guide to the Spiritual Life and Christian Discipleship, by Fr. Jeffrey Kirby, STL
This terrific, easy-to-read volume offers a primer on the Catholic faith and the basics of prayer in the Catholic tradition.
The genius of Lord, Teach Us to Pray is that after providing a remedial crash-course on Christianity, it helps readers create a meaningful Rule of Life, following principles established by the great saints. This two-phased approach—basic catechesis, followed by concrete action—has proved to be a remarkably effective way to help Catholics of all ages draw closer to Jesus.
Letters from a lay apostle on becoming a shepherd of souls…
Dear seminarian, I have been praying for you with all my heart, for you may be one of our future priests, and priests are a miracle of God s love for us. A man, through the sacrament of Ordination, becomes another Christ, with powers that go beyond human imagination…
It is doubtful that any woman has spoken more often to seminarians and future priests than Catherine Doherty–renowned Catholic speaker, author of more than 40 books and thousands of articles, and foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate.
Catherine understands that the awakening of your priestly identity is crucial, for you are called to extend the incarnation of Jesus Christ in history. In this highly inspirational work, she addresses a wide range of topics important to your priestly spiritual formation.
Catherine’s words will encourage, motivate, and occasionally astonish you with their clarity and depth–enabling you to prepare to be a modern-day shepherd to God s people in the spiritual crisis and challenges facing us today.
Available for purchase on amazon.com
A Priest in the Family
This is a great book for the family of a seminarian, answering questions like: “My son, a priest!? Won’t he be lonely? What about celibacy? Isn’t he too young? I just want him to be happy!”
These and dozens of other questions and concerns are common among parents of would-be priests. With his gift for storytelling and down-to-earth wisdom, Fr. Brett Brannen addresses a wide range of issues in A Priest in the Family: A Guide for Parents Whose Sons are Considering Priesthood. It is available in Spanish, too.
Purchase from vianneyvocations.com
Spanish version: Un Sacerdote en la Familia
Mary and the Priestly Ministry
One gift idea is Mary and the Priestly Ministry, which countless priests have found to be an inspiring book of meditation and a source of priestly renewal. You can buy them from amazon.com.