US Church preparing for National Vocation Awareness Week
By Lisa Zengarini
As the Church in the United States prepares to celebrate the National Vocation Awareness Week in November, the chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations,calls attention on the central role played by family and local faith communities in supporting them.
Accompaniment of faith community
“Although encouragement of the parish priest is the most influential factor in vocational discernment,” says Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, “the accompaniment of the whole faith community is key for genuine vocational discernment – from one’s parents and family members, to the Catholic educators, as well as the vital role that youth ministers and fellow parishioners play as the early encounters for young people to the faith.”
This was confirmed by the latest research figures published by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) in February this year.
According to the survey, three quarters religious men and women who professed their perpetual vows in the United States in 2020 came from families in which both parents are Catholic. Nine in ten reported that someone encouraged them to consider a vocation to religious life. 45% were encouraged by their parish priest, 41% by a friend, and 40% by a religious sister or brother, while 30% said they were encouraged by their mother.
In light of these figures, Bishop Checchio is encouraging US dioceses to use National Vocation Awareness Week as a time for fostering vocations in their own local communities.
NVAW celebrated in the first week of November
NVAW began in 1976 and was originally celebrated on the 28th Sunday of the year and since 2014 is celebrated in the first week of November.
During the week dioceses across the US hold events to promote an appreciation for all vocations and pray specifically for those discerning vocations to priesthood, diaconate and religious life.
St, Joseph a model for vocational discernment
This years’ NVAW, to be held from from 7-13 November, will draw inspiration Pope Francis’ Message for the 58th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations, in which he offered St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, as a model for vocational discernment.
“Only by abandoning ourselves confidently to grace, setting aside our own programmes and comforts, can we truly say “yes” to God,” Pope Francis said, calling on the Church to look to St. Joseph as an “outstanding example of acceptance of God’s plans.”
The USCCB has published resources for the week including homily aids recommended reading and discernment tips, prayers of the faithful, and bulletin-ready quotes.