WASHINGTON — The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, January 10-16.
“This week provides the opportunity for parishes across the country to promote vocations through prayer and education,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “It is our responsibility to encourage young people to be generous in their response as they discern the possibility of a call to service in the Church. We must also ask parents, families and our parish communities to assist with this work, vocations are everyone’s business. As we pray for an increased number of seminarians and candidates for religious life, we recognize the importance of safeguarding the gift of vocations.”
Several initiatives to highlight priesthood and religious life are on-going in 2010. The Vatican-sponsored Year for Priests continues through June 2010 http://www.usccb.org/yearforpriests/. Dioceses are highlighting the role of priests in diocesan newspapers, on their Web sites and with other events.
An exhibit on the contributions of women religious in the United States, Women & Spirit, opens at the Smithsonian institution in Washington, January 14. More information on this traveling exhibit can be found at www.womenandspirit.org. The Smithsonian is co-sponsoring this exhibit with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
The U.S. bishops have also named promotion of vocations to priesthood and religious life as one of their current five priorities and are deciding on efforts to promote vocations, for example, through their Website, www.usccb.org.
Father David Toups, interim executive director of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, added, “The church needs to help young people hear the Lord in prayer, so they can recognize him in their lives.
“This week reminds us that it is our responsibility to pray for vocations and to invite young people to consider a call to ordained ministry and consecrated life.”
The observance of National Vocation Awareness Week (NVAW) began in 1976 when the National Conference of Catholic Bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year as the beginning of NVAW. In 1997, this celebration was moved to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which falls on January 10 in 2010, marks the initiation of Jesus into public ministry. At his baptism Jesus is named the beloved Son of God. With this celebration the faithful recommit themselves to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. They are also initiated through their own baptism to be the Beloved of God, commissioned to proclaim Good News with their lives.