The World Day of Prayer for Vocations is Saturday, May 7, 2017. This year marks the 54th Anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
The World Day of Prayer for Vocations focuses on vocations to the ordained ministries, to the religious life, to societies of apostolic life, to secular institutes, and to the missionary life.
All Christians share a common vocation: to grow in holiness and spread the message of Jesus’ life and saving work. An important part of our common vocation is responding to God’s love throughout our lives.
God may call us to become holy by any path he chooses. How can we know what God is calling us to be and to do? We can hear God in prayer, through the celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments. We can hear God when we reflect on the gifts and talents he has given us which may point to a certain vocation. We can hear God in the wisdom of people of faith who advise and encourage us.
God calls some men to the ordained priesthood. “Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time.” (CCC, 1536) There are actually three orders, or degrees, to the Sacrament of Holy Orders: deacons, priests, and bishops.
Some deacons are ordained for the purpose of helping and serving and assisting priests in their role. This is called the permanent diaconate. Other men are ordained deacons as a step in the process of becoming a priest. The priest represents Christ and teaches, governs, and sanctifies in his name. The priest grows in holiness as he cares for the Church, the Body of Christ, and is an example of service and compassion. Some priests are called to serve the Church in the role of bishop, receiving the “fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders” (CCC, 1557).
God calls some women and men to the religious life. Religious sisters, brothers, and priests devote themselves to Christ’s work through the work of their communities. They often make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to try to follow Jesus’ example of living each day for God.
Although we may have different states in life: single, married, ordained, or vowed religious, all of us are called by God to love and serve him. We answer God’s call by the way we live.
In the Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the 54th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis stated, “I wish heartily to encourage this kind of profound friendship with the Lord, above all for the sake of imploring from on high new vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.” (From the Vatican, 27 November 2016)
The Seminarian Letter Project is a special initiative founded in 2000 by John Tirado and sponsored by the New Jersey State Council of the Knights of Columbus. The project provides inspiration to seminarians studying throughout the United States and in Rome by encouraging students in Catholic schools and parish religious education programs to send letters and cards to men studying for the priesthood. It also promotes vocations to the priesthood and strengthens students’ appreciation for the work and study undertaken by those answering the call.
Our Baptismal call is towards lives of holiness and love. We live this out in various ways through a vocation that might entail ordination to the priesthood, religious, married, or single life, or a commitment to a particular ministry.
On May 7, pray along with the Church that young men and women listen and respond to God’s call.
Download a Prayer for Vocations Prayer Card and use it in your home, school, or parish to pray for those discerning a vocation on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and any time.