Phase III: Spreading the Word
Not ready for Phase III yet? View Phase II.
After implementing a solid foundation of prayer and education in the local parish, a ministry in Phase III is typically well established and running smoothly, positive changes are occurring within the parish, and more parishioners recognize and affirm the work.
The ministry is ready for even more transformative activities, spreading the good word of vocations outside of the parish. Even with the growth in maturity, a ministry is strongly encouraged to continue praying for the intercession of the Blessed Mother Mary and Saint Alphonsus Liguori, the patron saint of vocations.
“The rector of Saint Mary’s Seminary, development director, and eight seminarians attended a special event at our parish. We invite them each year to affirm them in their important discernment and work at the seminary.”
Extract from the book:
The ideas noted as Phase III are challenging because of the number of members needed to make them run smoothly, the amount of funding some require, and the parish support needed to successfully carry out the activity. However, when successful, these activities can produce great results and substantial positive attention on vocations.
During this phase, a ministry is likely focused on such activities as the complex prayer activities that put vocations in the forefront of all youth and their families in the parish and extend its affirmation efforts to include local seminarians. It also will hold events recognizing altar servers and for those discerning.
Phase III Activity Resources
Let the Children Come to Me
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me,” as recorded in Matthew 19:14. Children’s hearts are so open to hearing God’s call, so let us give him every opportunity to communicate to the children what his will is in their lives. We may not know all the fruits that come when we teach the youngest parishioners to adore before the Blessed Sacrament, but rest assured that seeds of holiness are planted at this activity. This activity is focused on 4-11 year olds.
For more materials and resources for this activity, visit https://childrensadoration.wixsite.com/eucharistic
Seven Sisters Apostolate
Start Seven Sisters Apostolate, a program of prayer for your priests. The premise of this apostolate, that originated in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, encourages 7 women at a parish to spiritual adopt their priest (one for each day of the week). They want fellow disciples to be a spiritual sister giving hidden support to priests. Find out more at sevensistersapostolate.org.
“In strengthening the priest you strengthen the whole Church…Strengthen the priest and you strengthen the whole foundation, you strengthen everything in the Church.” -Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, S.P
Traveling Vocations Chalice Program
A great way to increase vocations to the priesthood and religious life is to bring awareness of vocations through prayer. The Second Vatican Council highlights the responsibility of the laity to pray for and support vocations. This urgent call has been strongly affirmed in the writings and addresses of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. The Traveling Vocations Chalice Program was created and is promoted by the Serra Club. The main idea is that a chalice (and paten, if possible), used in the sacrifice of the Mass is sent home with families within the parish. Not only is this a symbol of the priesthood you want to imprint in the minds of all those who see it, but it also promotes the Eucharist. Having the chalice at home for a week is a reminder for individuals and the parents and children in a family to pray and think about their own vocation. This program has the potential to bring about a vocation-minded parish, one family at a time.
Traveling Vocations Cross Program
This activity, similar to the Traveling Vocations Chalice Program, ask for prayers for vocations as parishioners take home a standing crucifix or cross with an Agnus Dei, a figure of a lamb bearing a cross or flag as an emblem of Christ, on it. It is perfect for traveling through a parish school, religious education classes, or Masses. Newer ministries may want to start with the Traveling Vocations Cross Program, as it is more cost effective and potentially less labor-intensive endeavor. It was created and is promoted by Serra US.
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
Called By Name
Called By Name, developed and promoted by Serra, is recommended by the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Vocations. This highly successful and advanced program invites men and women, 18 years of age or older, to consider a vocation as a priest, sister, or brother. Many seminarians say that the final nudge for starting discussions with the vocation director was simply being asked, by their pastor, parent, grandparent, or any Catholic adult, if they had considered the priesthood. It is crucial that parishes actively support and promote future generations of priests, religious sisters, and brothers to serve a growing Church, hungering for Christ in the Eucharist.
For information about running the program, visit http://serraspark.org
Called by Name Kit: https://www.vianneyvocations.com/product/called-name-kit/
Discerning Religious Life
I encourage priests to have books like To Save a Thousand Souls on hand to give to those seriously discerning priesthood, and now we have a book for young women who are discerning religious life, too!
Teen girls and young women need truth and guidance while discerning. Sister Clare Mattiass, Vocation Director for the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, has worked with hundreds of young women who felt called to religious life. In her book Discerning Religious Life she gives fresh perspective and insights for today’s youth, explaining with humor and wisdom how to discern with clarity the call of Jesus to become His bride. Make sure to have copies on hand at your church to give to those seriously discerning a call to consecrated life. If you are looking for bite-sized portions of these books for your church book rack, check out the booklets Discerning Priesthood and Is This A Call?
Available at Vianney Vocations
Join in this exciting conversation between Father John Paul and Sister Clare Matthiass, CFR, as they discuss Sister Clare’s new book, Discerning Religious Life, and convey the message of living the Gospel in simplicity according to the ideals of Saint Francis and the how viewers can effectively discern a possible call to religious life.
A Living Sacrifice
A Living Sacrifice is a comprehensive guide for men who are discerning God’s call. It serves as both an introduction to religious life as well as a comprehensive guide for discerning vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
With clear language, engaging examples, and solid theology, the book tackles the big questions: “Should I date while discerning?” “Should I be a diocesan priest or a religious brother?” “What community should I join?” “What should I expect during formation?” “What is religious life anyway?” and “How do I know for sure if I’m being called?”
Co-author Fr. Benedict Croell has been called the most successful religious vocation director in America, with over 100 men entering his community during his time of service. (He is now assigned to The Angelicum in Rome.) Co-author Fr. Andrew Hofer oversaw the initial formation of new brothers, and offers both real-life insights and a solid theological foundation. Together, they amass their considerable experience to provide reliable advice during every stage of vocational discernment.
Importantly, A Living Sacrifice includes an overview of most forms of religious life in the U.S., as well as contributions from priests and brothers in many different communities, such as the Franciscans, Jesuits, Holy Cross, Norbertines, and many more. While authored by Dominican priests, the book is deliberately written for men discerning any religious community.
A Living Sacrifice offers a solid alternative to “cyber discernment” by addressing men’s most common questions in a single volume. Perfect to bring into the chapel to spark a heart-to-heart conversation with Christ.
Nihil Obstat, Rev. Basil Cole, O.P.
Imprimatur, Rev. Msgr. Charles V. Antonicelli, V.G.
Recommended by Scott Hahn, Curtis Martin, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, Fr. Thomas Nelson, Archbishop Di Noia, Fr. Jeff Eirvin, and many others.
Fish Fry for Vocations
Numerous councils of the Knights of Columbus around the country sponsor a Fish Fry each Friday of Lent at their local parish. Using one of those Fish Fry Fridays to promote vocations can educate hundreds of parishioners in a first-hand way about vocations. Priests, religious men, and women, professed and in formation, and seminarians can enjoy free food and drink while they mingle with parishioners. Also, these guests can share their short vocation testimony with those in attendance. This activity inspires the parishioners, young, old, married, or single to follow God’s call in their lives.
[Christ] confers upon Christian married couples a special mission as apostles, sending them as workers into His vineyard, and, in a very special way, into this field of the family.” – Pope St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, #71
Most parishes provide initial preparation for couples planning to get married, but what happens after “I do?”. The Choice Wine prepares couples for this awesome mission of apostleship in the pivotal field of the family by putting them on a pathway to holiness. This nine-session, interactive, multimedia program introduces couples to the 7 Steps to a Superabundant marriage. These simple yet powerful steps help couples divorce-proof their marriage, truly experience God’s superabundant love and mercy, and realize a foretaste of paradise here on earth. The Choice Wine is free to parishes running it in a large group format, run by volunteers, with comprehensive support and training provided by Paradisus Dei.
The Choice Wine: 7 Steps to a Superabundant Marriage is a pathway to authentic marital happiness. Couples will learn how to virtually divorce-proof their marriages, experience the superabundant love and mercy of God and realize a foretaste of Paradise in their marriages and families. For Couples – http://thechoicewine.org/choice-wine-for-couples/
This program is free to parishes, so it is perfect for a large or small group setting of couples.
For Your Marriage
http://www.foryourmarriage.org/ and Por tu Matrimonio website http://www.portumatrimonio.org/ are sites to inspire, assist and encourage couples in English or Spanish to live their marriage more fully. It includes content for dating and engaged couples and family life and parenting, too.
Made for Love is a new podcast that aims to convey the truth about marriage and families by helping Catholics tell stories of God’s work in their lives.
Made for Love Podcast
Hosted by Sara Perla, a program specialist for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Made for Love http://www.marriageuniqueforareason.org/podcast/ is under the aegis of Marriage: Unique for a Reason, an initiative of the bishops’ conference.
While the podcast is focused on people “living out the call to love,” it is not afraid to explore the less-rosy forms of “love” in the world.
Catholic Family and Marriage
Catholic Family and Marriage is committed to supporting all types of families and marriages. We do not claim to have all of the answers but want to walk with families through their struggles and joys, through the heartbreaks and triumphs, as we all seek together deeper relationships rooted in Christ.
Sign up Here- https://www.catholicfam.org/parish-bulletin-inserts.html for FREE Bulletin Inserts for your Parish all about the Vocation of Marriage!
The Melchizedek Project is a free discernment program for males that provides resources for starting vocation discernment groups. Catholic men meet to pray about their lives, listen for God’s voice, and get serious about answering his call. “The overriding theme of the discussions is discipleship: ‘Am I willing to follow Christ no matter what the cost, no matter what the call? Will I choose to trust his will for me, and courageously go where he leads?'” Their handbook is To Save a Thousand Souls by Father Brett Brannen. This can be a stand-alone activity or a great follow-up for individuals whose names emerged from the Called By Name program.
- Learn more about the Melchizedek Project
- Request a start-up packet
- Request Group Materials
- Request Promotional Posters
- Buy the Book: To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood.
Available at Vianney Vocations in English or Spanish.
- In e-reader and International version, find at www.amazon.com
- If you have a discernment group, go to www.melchizedekproject.com for free books.
Avow Women’s Discernment Group
Avow was created by Sr. Clare Matthiass, CFR and Vianney Vocations. Our goal is simple: to help women draw closer to Jesus as they discern a possible vocation to religious life. We use the tried-and-true model of “discernment groups” because they work. When women learn together, pray together, and support each other, it’s much easier to discern with clarity. This can be run in a parish, diocese, or religious order. It would be particularly effective after Called By Name has been completed in a parish or diocese, as well. Avow uses a similar format as The Melchizedek Project, a successful discernment group model for men discerning the priesthood.
Learn More about Avow Women’s Discernment Group here– https://www.discernavow.com/about/
Request Materials here: https://www.discernavow.com/materials/
To Save A Thousand Souls
Father Brett A. Brannen’s book is the definitive guide for men discerning their vocation, explaining the priesthood, where they are in the discernment process, and the next step in the process. It is now the standard “catechism for discernment” throughout the country, with more than 100 U.S. dioceses ordering it in bulk. It has been translated into Spanish and reprinted in Europe and Asia. Young men affirm that this easy-to-read book answers most of their questions about discerning their vocation, and many seminarians cite its important role in their decision-making process.
Every Vocation Ministry should have copies of this book on hand to present to a young man discerning the priesthood. Furthermore, every ministry member should read the book to gain knowledge of the discernment process for these young men.
To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood is available at Vianney Vocations in English or Spanish.
Witness to Love
In the United States, most parishes offer a marriage preparation program for those seeking this important sacrament and vocation. Witness to Love, which is listed on the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops website for marriage preparation programs, seeks to revolutionize this process. Its goal is to have engaged couples experience the Church not as strangers but as a committed and life-giving family of faith. The engaged couple chooses a mentor couple that meets the basic requirements and becomes an essential part of the catechumenate team as the “trusted” means of communicating what must be revealed about marriage through Jesus to the engaged couple. It is within the trusted relationship between the mentors and the engaged that the marriage remains strong, is formed from love, is strengthened by good catechesis and is nourished by prayers and a sacramental life. Deep conversations, encounters with Christ, and renewal are available consistently for both the mentors and engaged couple.
Witness to Love has been proven to be very effective in preparing couples for marriage and successfully integrating them into their parish. Newly married couples still attend Mass and are active in their parish years after their wedding day. A recent case study found that the full implementation of Witness to Love at a parish in 2012 took the divorce rate from 23% to 0% each year over the next four years.
You may review the program risk-free by visiting WitnessToLove.org
World Day of Cloistered Life– November 21 (The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
On this day the Church celebrates World Day of Cloistered Life, an ecclesial event for all Catholics to commemorate the hidden lives of cloistered and monastic religious. Ways to honor the event include prayer (participating in a novena, offering up Masses, etc.), encouragement (writing letters to contemplative communities, visiting them, calling to thank them, etc.), and material support (monetary donations).
A few years ago at a general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded the Church, “Let us give thanks to the Lord for the powerful testimony of cloistered life.” He also urged the faithful to lend their spiritual and material support to these brothers and sisters of ours “so that they can carry out their important mission.”
Special promotion of this annual celebration is being coordinated in the United States by the Institute on Religious Life.
Bulletin insert for the weekend before World Day of Cloistered Life:
This November 21 (the Memorial of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple), the Church celebrates World Day of Cloistered Life, an ecclesial event for all Catholics to commemorate the hidden lives of cloistered and monastic religious. Ways to honor the event include prayer (participating in a novena, offering up Masses, etc.), encouragement (writing letters to contemplative communities, visiting them, calling to thank them, etc.), and material support (monetary donations).
For more information visit CloisteredLife.com.
World Marriage Day- 2nd Sunday in February
This special day to salute the beauty of marriage started in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1981, and 2 years later 43 Governors officially proclaimed the day and festivities spread throughout the United States. World Marriage Day is designated to be celebrated on the second Sunday of February and continues to grow and extend to more countries every year.
The permanent theme for World Marriage Day is “Love One Another” from the commandment given us by Jesus in John 14. This gospel gives us a simple but challenging message of how our Heavenly Father wishes us to live. Loving one another is a daily decision – simple, but challenging.
World Marriage Day can be celebrated in various ways, but most importantly it is done by uplifting those who have said YES to one another in the sacrament of marriage.
For those in Phase I, insert the blurb below for your bulletin, make announcements at Masses, give out marriage prayer cards, or recognize the couple married longest at Masses.
This weekend we celebrate World Marriage Day! Let’s take time to pray for our spouses and each other to lift our marriages. Do something special for each other this weekend to show your gratitude for your spouse and their YES! Your goal in this Vocation of Marriage should be to get your spouse to heaven. Take time to ponder in your heart how you can do that, starting right now. God bless you!
This weekend we celebrate World Marriage Day! Please pray for the married couples and those in marriage preparation from our parish. Prayer cards will be available at the church entrance. God bless all men and women who said YES to the vocation of marriage!
If you are in Phase II-IV, you could hold a renewal of vows, organize prayer for those in marriage prep as a parish, hold a reception for married couples after Masses, or consider recommending, which is a couple’s ministry, at your parish. At a youth ministry event, all the adults working with the teens who are married could speak for a moment about the joys of marriage, or few married couples could speak at a celebration like a reception or dance after a renewal of vows. Another way to affirm those who are married occurs during Mass. The priest or deacon asks all married couples to stand up, and then he asks those married 5 years or less to sit down, 10 years, working his way up to the couple married the longest. Everyone gives them a round of applause and possibly a bouquet of flowers.
Remember: Marriages striving for holiness = Growing, thriving Church and holy vocations.
For more information, including blessings, intercessions, prayer service, and more ideas. visit:
- The OTHER Vocation: Homily for World Marriage Day
- In conjunction with the start of National Marriage Week USA, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched a new mobile responsive website! ForYourMarriage.org offers numerous resources on the meaning and beauty of marriage in God’s plan and provides support to couples at every stage of their journey. Check it out by visiting: www.ForYourMarriage.org
- Catholic Family & Marriage, Inc. is a ministry dedicated to empowering, encouraging, and equipping families and marriages. They have blogs, free bulletin inserts and more at catholicfam.org
Young Adult Ministry in a Box
While establishing a Young Adult Ministry in your parish may seem to be somewhat off task, it is not! Many young people entertain the thought of a priestly or consecrated vocation in college, but after graduation, they return home to find that in most parishes there is no ministry where they fit or are fed spiritually. Our priests are normally so busy that they don’t have time to create a curriculum for a young adult group either. Young Adult Ministry in a Box is about empowering young adults by offering structures, programs, and best practices so they can build the ministry themselves.
Busted Halo, a Catholic radio program, and the National Catholic Young Adult Ministers Association (NCYAMA) have designed a resource that incorporates these elements as well as the experiences and advice of the most talented young adult ministers in the United States. The program offers several sessions dedicated to vocations, as well. Young Adult Ministry in a Box is an online subscription to a resource kit that will help you create and sustain a vibrant young adult ministry with minimal staff time at minimal cost with maximum results. Check it out here: https://www.youngadultministryinabox.com/
Seminarian Trading Cards
To introduce the seminarians and their stories and encourage prayer for each of them, simple trading cards can be created to be given to the youth in a parish. They can have the name and photo on one side and a prayer on the other, or more information can be included about each seminarian. No matter how elaborate the card is, promote prayer and show the children that seminarians are young men, finding their way, exactly like the male youth in the school/parish. This activity can be adapted for priests and religious men and women, professed or in formation.
Example Trading Card:
Catholic Vocation Bible School: Discovery Mission
We need to engage children where they are in our parishes, and in the summer, they are at Vacation Bible School (VBS). Now, through Discovery Mission, children K-8th grade can be reminded that God has a plan for their lives, while educating them about Catholic vocations and encouraging them to say yes to Jesus!
Discovery Mission uses a traditional VBS format, with half-day lessons for five days and is every bit as fun and engaging as some of the “big players” in the VBS market. It’s 100% Catholic, and is focused on teaching kids about marriage, priesthood, and religious life. Discovery Mission is not just good for kids, it’s good for the Church! Check it out here: https://www.vocationbibleschool.com/
Seminarian Welcome Back Gift
All seminarians need affirmation throughout their process of discernment. As a ministry, consider giving those seminarians from your parish or all diocesan seminarians a small gift when they return to the seminary at the beginning of the fall semester.
One of the goals of a Vocation Ministry is to lift-up seminarians with affirmation in the form of physical cards and/or gifts.
Whether you send gift cards, school-related items, or the books below, the seminarians will be thankful for your gifts of affirmation.
Lord, Teach us to Pray
Another Seminarian Welcome Back Gift is: 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.