Pray for Vocations

February 12, 1995
Brother John Raymond

	I remember hearing about a very interesting homily given by a
 priest during the Sunday Mass. After reading the Gospel the priest
 stepped down from the pulpit and went to sit in the first pew. At
 first everyone thought maybe Father didn't feel well and needed to
 sit down. As minutes ticked away people started to squirm in their
 pews, of course this could happen even under normal homily
 circumstances. Father didn't seem to be moving from his seat. One of
 the ushers finally got up the nerve to ask Father if he was all
 right. He responded that he was fine. He then proceeded to stand up
 and go to the pulpit. The people in church were on the edge of their
 seat waiting to hear what Father was going to say. He very simply
 explained that if they didn't pray for and encourage vocations to
 the priesthood going to church would be as they had just experienced
 - silence because of no priest. Father's homily may have seemed a
 bit dramatic but it sure drove a hard lesson home to his listeners.
	We may be tempted to think that our parish will always have a
 priest. But the sad reality is that more and more parishes do not. I
 had one woman write to me that her church has no priest. Instead of
 Mass they have what is called a Communion Service. I recently read
 that in England one parish is under the care of a permanent deacon
 because of no priest. The parish church in our town has become a
 mission church with a priest only coming from the next town for the
 Sunday Masses. So it can happen to our parish.
	Now this is not to say that there are no vocations - there are
 plenty in other countries. When I was in Colombia a regional
 seminary had 120 students with 70 more interested for the coming
 year. But besides a few countries and dioceses in the western world
 vocations for both the priesthood and religious life are facing a
 serious shortage. Now we probably can think of a million reasons for
 this shortage - I certainly don't have room to list that many here.
 But three key thoughts come to my mind from my experiences in places
 where there is an abundance of vocations:
	1. Almost nobody is talking about and encouraging vocations in
 parishes or schools. Countries with vocations very aggressively send
 seminarians and others to talk with young people about a vocation.
 They also invite them for a short weekend experience at the seminary
 or religious house.
	2. I remember someone saying one time that there is never a
 shortage of people being called by God but a shortage of people
 saying, "Yes." In other countries people are responding to God's
	3. Finally, and of course very much related to this column,
 people praying for vocations. At a seminary I visited with many
 vocations they had a special holy hour once a month specifically
 dedicated to vocations.
	We can help with all three of these key points. Regarding the
 first point maybe we can encourage someone we know to consider a
 vocation - it really can make a difference. The second point can't
 be helped, unless we are being personally called, except by the
 third point - prayer. Our prayers for vocations can obtain the grace
 of a vocation for someone or change a person's "No" to a "Yes." Who
 knows, maybe someone in your immediate circle of family and friends
 could become a priest or religious. One mother did a holy hour every
 day for her sons to have vocations and all five of them became
	We should make vocations part of our intention in the Holy Mass,
 when receiving Holy Communion, praying the Holy Rosary, etc. Oh, and
 by the way, put in a couple of prayers for my Order, The Monks of