Phase IV: Expanding the Ministry's Reach
Not ready for Phase IV yet? View Phase III.
By Phase IV the ministry is at the pinnacle of influence, operational capabilities, and visible results within its parish. The vocation ministry members may be asked by a young person for advice about discernment, individuals may spend more time thinking about the meaning of marriage in their spiritual lives, and more young people may be seriously considering the priesthood or religious life. These and other affirming results indicate the vocation ministry is meeting its goals of encouraging vocations and helping individuals move toward holiness and discern God’s will in their lives.
Extract from the book: While the programs in Phase IV are ambitious, they are meant to develop a truly vocation-minded parish. These activities will surely bear much fruit in Jesus’ name. At this phase, the ministry should remember to share regularly the good news about successes—within the ministry and within the parish—to keep people on fire for vocations. During Phase IV, a ministry has the capacity to expand its reach beyond their own walls and is likely focused on such activities with long-term commitments from the parish, offering its service to the Office of Vocations and the nearby Serra Club, and affirming not only current, but also retired priests and religious.
Phase IV Activity Resources
Family Holy Hour
Every effort should be made to bring parishioners before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to pray for their vocation and vocations in general. This activity encourages parents to bring their children to pray, as well, modeling faith in action. Though not a complicated event, as the focus is on Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the beauty is in the simplicity of prayer for vocations. The reception, though optional, gives all in attendance the opportunity to get to know one another, especially the families with the religious and priests present.
Pray for Seminarians
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.
Spiritual Adoption Program
While thankful for a seminarian’s desire to intimately serve Christ and his Church, his journey to ordination can be filled with struggles, uncertainty, and hesitation. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother’s powerful intercession, and the affirmation and prayers of a dedicated family or individual, the discerner will receive the grace needed to continue their journey. Consider adding prayer as a ministry for the seminarians and others in religious formation even if the ministry cannot launch its own Spiritual Adoption Program.
Renewal of Marriage Vows
Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
– Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
A parish should take every opportunity to strengthen the bonds of those who have said YES to one another in the sacrament of marriage. A renewal of vows is a way for a couple to celebrate their marriage and let other parishioners know that no matter how long a couple has been married, they would do so again! This can be done any time of year or on or around World Marriage Day (Second Sunday of February), July 12, the feast day of Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, or July 26, the feast day of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Virgin Mary. Consider combining this activity with one of the other affirming activities for marriage, such as a reception or dance, blessing for all married couples, handing out prayer cards for the married couples.
World Day of Prayer for Vocations – Diocese
When the ministry is running at full strength, consider contacting your Office of Vocations in your diocese to offer help with World Day of Prayer for Vocations at the diocesan level. Normally, the Director of Vocations is overwhelmed with vocation activities and could do even more if they had assistance from others who have a heart for vocations. This activity is incredibly worthwhile as it can create a beautiful community of all parishioners called to pray for vocations. Holding a diocesan event is a large undertaking, but it does not have to be completed by one ministry. It can be coordinated with other organizations and groups within the diocese. No matter what the Office of Vocations needs, letting the staff know that the ministry members are willing to help and are praying for vocations will be music to their ears.
AWARENESS & EDUCATION
Most Catholics are in need of inspiration to strive for holiness, the first vocation. Providing exhibits that encourage parishioners to live as Christ calls each of us is invaluable. The subject of the display can be about miracles, angels, saints, or the like.
To hold your own exhibit of the Eucharistic Miracles contact:
Carol J. Seydel
Marriage Speaking Event
One often-overlooked aspect of a Vocation Ministry is encouraging married couples to live out their vocation with Christ at the center of their marriage. Today’s society is in desperate need of holy marriages to be examples to others, so highlight the virtuous examples in each parish for all to see and emulate in any way possible.
A married couple can be the main speakers at a Marriage event like we had a few years ago. Several hundred people from St. Cecilia and the surrounding parishes attended Marriage on Purpose: Put a Ring on it! Stephanie and Matt Regitz shared with dating, engaged, and married couples about their courtship and marriage story.
Wall of Vocations
Show everyone who comes to your parish who has answered the call to the priesthood or consecrated life. Hang framed pictures of those who have said “Yes” on a dedicated and highly visible wall. These men and women will be a reminder for all who see them that they, too, could have a call to a life of radically following Christ.
Altar Server Day
Knowing that the boys and girls who volunteer as altar servers are at a perfect age for thinking about their own vocation, the ministry should affirm the servers in a variety of ways. Normally, the older the youth, the less likely they will continue to volunteer in this way for the Church, so affirmation should occur often. Though this day can take countless forms, the goal of this activity is to provide encouragement and incentive to keep serving the parish and the Lord in this manner.
Altar Server Certificate- Sample Certificate
Recognize the most accomplished or longest-serving altar servers with either a Pendant or a pin from Serra International. Buy them here:
When a parishioner discerns and enters the seminary, a celebration is in order. When he is ordained to the priesthood, after years of prayer and study, the whole parish should rejoice. His ordination provides an opportunity for the local church community to affirm the young man’s “Yes” to his vocation call, and the chance to celebrate together.
A newly ordained priest’s home parish typically has a Mass of Thanksgiving, which is one of his first celebrations of the Holy Mass as the presider. After that Mass, a reception provides time for parishioners to receive a First Blessing from the priest and fellowship. The event allows parishioners the opportunity to experience first-hand the joy of an ordination to the priesthood.
With praise and thanksgiving to God, Bishop _____ will ordain _____ as a transitional deacon on _____ day, _____, at 10am, at the Cathedral of _____. With this rite, the men will become deacons — servants of the Word, liturgy, and charity — but they will also embark on their final year of priestly formation in anticipation of their Presbyteral ordination next May. Deacons can preach at Mass, they can give certain blessings, they can preside at funerals, and help bury the dead, and they can baptize and witness marriages outside of Mass, among many other ministerial functions. After being ordained, a deacon goes to kneel before the bishop, who places the Book of the Gospels in his hand, saying: “Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” The men are now tasked with bringing the Gospel into the world, both by proclaiming it at Mass and by exemplifying it in their service and daily life. Please join us for a reception in the _____ for Deacon _____ after the_____AM Mass. Let us pray for _____ as he continues to serve the Diocese of _____.
Deacon Sunday- 2nd Sunday in October
Purpose: To affirm these men who have said YES to serving the Church in a profound way.
Deacons deserve much affirmation for their tireless work, proclaiming the word of God, giving homilies, performing baptisms, and witnessing marriages, among other responsibilities. These selfless servants are fully ordained clergy, reporting directly to the bishop.
Our hope is that you and your ministry will incorporate this vocation day into your parish schedule. We look forward to seeing how you celebrate this special day for your deacons.
What do deacons do:
- Proclaim the Gospel
- Witness marriages
- Perform funeral and burial services outside of the Eucharist
- Distribute Holy Communion
- Preach the homily
- Visit the sick
- Teach the faith
- Provide counsel for couples and individuals
- Work on parish committees
- Advise and assist pastors
Please join Vocation Ministry today, Deacon Sunday, in praying for our deacons, praising God for their gift of service and charity. Also, please take a moment after Mass to fill out a spiritual bouquet, which is an offering of prayer for [each of] our deacons. God bless our deacons!
Prayers of the Faithful:
For all deacons who are ordained to serve our Church, that their ministry may be fruitful and appreciated by the people whom they serve, we pray to the Lord…
For the gift to our (parish or diocese) of vocations to the ordained diaconate, that good men may be drawn to love and to serve the People of God, we pray to the Lord…
That we may never take the presence of our deacons for granted, as we cherish their service to us at church, at home and in the hospital, we pray to the Lord…
For all deacons who struggle with challenges of balancing family, work, and the church, that they may be guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we pray to the Lord…
For deacons, who now sleep in peace of the resurrection, and for those who may die this year or this day, that God lead them gently into their eternal reward, we pray to the Lord…
- Call/text/email/write your deacon
- Send spiritual bouquets to him
- Send him drawings or paintings by children
- Pray, fast, and offer sacrifices for him
- Send him a gift card from Amazon or a restaurant
- Hold a reception for your deacons and their wives to say thank you for their service to the parish
St. Stephen, Patron of Deacons and Altar Servers
St. Lawrence, Patron of Deacons
St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Patron of Clergy
Have your deacon fill out this simple questionnaire to find out about him and how to affirm him best.
A prayer for deacons:
O Christ, You are the source of all ministry in the Church. In response to the needs of the People of God, through the laying on of hands and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, You have called forth and ordained deacons as servants for our Church.
Continue to sustain those You have called to this ministry so they remain ardent servants with gentle hearts, proclaiming the Gospel and serving at Your Holy table.
Help them reflect the real and true presence of Christ, the Deacon, to the needy among us. We also give thanks for those who accompany these men in their journey of service—their wives and families, their parish communities, and all those who call them to respond in faith, hope, and love.
Loving Savior, continue to help Your Church affirm our deacons in their service. Together as one family of faith, may all that we say and do give honor and glory to You and draw others ever closer to Your Sacred Heart. Amen.
Prayer by Most Rev. Douglas Lucia, bishop of Syracuse, NY
Buy Prayer Card for Deacons: https://vocationministry.com/shop/prayer-card-prayer-for-deacons-pack-of-50/
Buy Deacon Thank You Card: https://vocationministry.com/shop/deacon-thank-you-card/
More Deacon Sunday Resources: https://vocationministry.com/deacon-sunday/
Few activities can leave such an impression on the parish community as a reception. Bringing parishioners together to honor clergy on their ordination anniversary, to say farewell to a religious sister who is moving, or for a myriad of other occasions can be impactful for all. Receptions affirm the clergy, married couples, or religious in such a special way, allowing parishioners the opportunity to give back and show their appreciation whether they help with the reception in some way or just attend. Consider starting with a simple reception and then hosting larger, more complex receptions as your ministry grows in the parish.
A simple reception can be used at any time and during any phase. Normally they are used when few funds and volunteers are available, but that does not mean they are not impactful. A donut and coffee reception that has a few decorations and is well-publicized still means so much to the priests, religious, or whoever is receiving the affirmation. The main aspect of any reception is the parishioners showing up to show their appreciation and gratitude toward the recipient, so consider using a simple reception when your parochial vicar first arrives or has an early ordination anniversary such as 10th anniversary.
A reception that contains more moving parts and requires at least 3-4 ministry members and more funding would be considered moderate. This reception could consist of finger foods such as sandwiches and chips and more options for drinks. More decorations, consisting of Catholic artwork, crosses, and/or statues can be used to spruce up the reception space. Consider placing pictures of the priest or guest of honor around the area, too, for a more personal touch. A moderate reception is perfect for saying farewell to a priest who has not been at the parish long, thanking the deacons for serving the church, or bringing parishioners together for fellowship before or after a vocation event.
A complex reception is best undertaken by a more experienced ministry with more funding and volunteers to help make this event special. This reception normally takes place after a special Mass for the priest or guest of honor and requires more substantial food. This can still be finger food, but either a buffet or sit down meal will be served. Extensive decorations consist of artwork and flowers and pictures of the guest of honor prevalent. A program of events may be offered if speakers or other activities are taking place during the reception. Consider having a video shown, especially if the guest of honor has been at the parish a long time. Another nice touch is to have a professional photographer, preferably a parishioner, who can capture the special moments of the reception so that the guest of honor has a way of sharing the event with others. This type of reception is perfect for when a pastor first arrives, leaves, or any priest or religious celebrates a significant anniversary of ordination or vows taken.