In addition to the universal Call to Holiness every Christian is called to live a particular personal vocation according to the will of God for his or her individual life. This vocation specifies the way in which God wants us to live out our universal Call to Holiness. A Parish Vocations Team is a group of people who work within the structures of the parish to promote a culture of vocation at all levels of parish life. A particular responsibility of a Parish Vocations Team is to find ways, appropriate to the circumstances of each parish, of fostering prayer for all vocations within the Church and especially vocations to the Religious Life and the ordained ministry.
Everyone in the Church shares in the responsibility for promoting vocations. This is especially true of the lay faithful who each with his or her own resources and style, have great importance in the pastoral work of promoting priestly vocations. A Parish Vocations Team, working in collaboration with the priests of the parish, can ensure that the parish is united in prayer for vocations and that vocations are given a proper prominence in the life of the parish. Furthermore, it can facilitate participation of young people in deanery and diocesan vocations events. Parishes which have a functioning Parish Vocations Team greatly assist the work of the priests by coming up with ideas, providing solutions and facilitating projects in all areas of vocations promotion.
By promoting a culture of vocation within our parishes a Parish Vocations Team can help foster an environment in which all people, and especially the young, are invited to consider their call and respond to it through prayer and participation in specific vocations events. It can also provide opportunities for all members of a parish community to pray for those who are seeking to discern their individual vocation.
A Parish Vocations Team will often be in a position to liaise with schools and colleges working with them to promote a culture of vocation through a variety of projects and activities.
In a very short space of time a functioning Parish Vocations Team can contribute to a transformation in the understanding and appreciation of vocations in all areas of parish life.
A Team may have as few as two or three members although it can have up to twelve. It is useful to have members from different areas of the life of the parish to ensure that its work reflects and has an impact on the whole parish.
There are many activities available to Parish Vocations Teams which have all been tried and tested in many parishes:
Parish 31 Club
Parishioners are asked to choose any day during the month when they will go to Mass to pray for vocations for the ordained ministry and religious life.
Vocations Cross Programme
The parish provides a Crucifix (it could equally be a statue, a picture or an icon) which is circulated throughout the parish with each family receiving it for one week. The family that receives the Cross commits to displaying it prominently in their home and to praying (together when possible) every day perhaps before the evening meal for all vocations but particularly for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life.
The Cross is usually presented to the host family during a Sunday Mass.
Blessed Sacrament Adoration
Eucharistic Adoration has been a great source of vocations wherever it has been introduced. Every parish in Southwark is encouraged to offer at least one Holy Hour for vocations in the course of the year. Many parishes have taken this up enthusiastically and now offer periods of Eucharistic Adoration on a weekly or monthly basis.
Sometimes this takes the form of a short period of Exposition before or after the weekday Mass. If there is to be a period of extended Eucharistic Adoration it is usually necessary to have a Rota of people to pray before the Blessed Sacrament during the day. It may also be necessary to arrange for someone to expose or repose the Blessed Sacrament.
Prayer of Faithful
The Prayer of the Faithful includes the bidding prayers we use at Mass and also the intercessions at Morning or Evening Prayer. It is good to frequently include prayers asking the Lord to send his grace for people to discover and follow the specific vocation he has in mind for them. At least one prayer for vocations could be included as often as possible during the Prayer of the Faithful (Bidding Prayers) at the Sunday Mass.
The Holy Rosary
Ask those who pray the Holy Rosary to include vocations as one of their intentions.
Sick and Housebound
Â It is good to ask all the sick and housebound to offer up their infirmities for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In this way the sick of our parish can become a powerhouse of prayer. Every sick person in the parish can be invited to become involved in the parish’s prayer for vocations by offering up their sickness.