Wednesday, December 15, 2010

US Catholic church celebrates Vocation Awareness Week - and so should Ireland!

For the past 34 years, the Catholic church in the USA has been celebrating Vocation Awareness Week as a means to urge Catholics (and especially young Catholics) to think about priesthood and religious life. The week designated for 2011, which is well organised and well promoted, begins on January 9th (the feast of the baptism of the Lord - which marks the beginning of his public ministry) and concludes on January 15th. What I find interesting and encouraging about how the American church goes about promoting this awareness campaign is that it is unashamedly concerned with vocation to priesthood, religious life and consecrated life. There is no ambiguity about the purpose of the vocation that they are highlighting! A great deal of effort is made to get parishes, families, dioceses involved through prayer and education programmes.

Would such an awareness week, that was primarily focused on promoting priestly and religious vocation,work in Ireland? I'd like to think so, but would be concerned that we'd get politically correct and have to broaden the scope to include the vocation of all. And by that time, then we would have lost the focus. However, I do believe that those involved in vocations ministry in Ireland should take the initiative and begin exploring the possibility. We had a 'Year of Vocation' a couple of years ago - it could be another 25 years before another such year comes around. The vocations situation in Ireland demands a faster response than that - our vocation strategy (if it exists at all!) needs a yearly injection similar to the United States model. Any takers?

The US Vocation Awareness Week has good resources at the website of the American Catholic bishops and also at 

1 comment:

Fr Seán Coyle said...

In my days as a full-time vocation director for the Columbans here in the Philippines I've been partly guilty of the 'crime' you mention - talking about all vocations, though I never quite lost the focus. But I do cringe when I hear vocation directors talking more about the vocation of marriage than they do about their own.

I was at home in Dublin for a while recently and, as on my previous vacation in 2007, wore my clericals nearly all the time. I was half afraid of some negative reaction because of what is still being revealed, but I met nothing but positive and encouraging responses. In 2007 while having lunch in a pub with those who had attended a funeral at which I had celebrated the Mass, a total stranger, a man of about 40, came over and stuck Euro10 or 20 in my hand and thanked me for wearing my collar!