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:
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.
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:
Is your parish priest celebrating his 10th, 20th, 25th, 50th Ordination Anniversary?!?!? This is the time to celebrate! Observe this day as big as your priest, budget, and ministry constraints will allow! Make sure that as many people as possible know about this event and encourage all to participate. These events are as much about fellowship within the community as they are about the actual anniversary, so reach out for and graciously welcome all help. The gathering does not have to take place on the actual date of the anniversary, so if you need a little more time to organize, take it!
If this is an in-between year (e.g. 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th), then normally gathering spiritual bouquets and a few gifts for him may be perfect. You could have donuts and coffee simple reception during these years, too.
Lastly, don’t forget the consecrated sisters and brothers who are at your parish. Find out when they professed vows to know when to celebrate their “yes,” as well.
Deacons are fully ordained clergy, reporting directly to the bishop. As a rule, a deacon is a voluntary position in the church, living out their first vocation of marriage and answering this second vocation call as a deacon. They deserve much affirmation for their tireless work, proclaiming the word of God, giving homilies, performing baptisms, and witnessing marriages, among other responsibilities. Like all men and women, deacons are called to a life of holiness.
Hold a reception for your deacons and their wives to say thank you for their service to the parish. Decorate the room with balloons and pictures of each deacon and his family. You could serve the normal donuts and coffee or do more with cake and punch. Invite parishioners to come, partake, and say thank you to their deacons. Whatever you do, make it a day for them to remember.
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.