.- As the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations draws near, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has prepared resources emphasizing the hope that religious vocations offer to the world.
“We need good holy priests and dedicated men and women committed to the consecrated life to help build the Kingdom of God here and now,” said Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
“Therefore, we want a stronger culture of vocations in our own nation to help each Catholic realize that we all have a responsibility to invite young people to consider if God is calling them to the priesthood or consecrated life,” the archbishop explained in an April 4 press release.
Vocations are part of the Church’s “basic mission,” which is “to preach the Gospel and help build a civilization of love in our world today,” he stressed.
Archbishop Carlson’s statements reflected the theme for this year’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which is “Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith.”
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, this theme “underscores the hope that vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life bring to the entire Church.”
The 2013 World Day of Prayer for Vocations will take place on April 21, the Fourth Sunday of Easter.
The U.S. bishops’ conference is offering resources on its website to help foster vocations, including video testimonies of priests, religious men and women religious, as well as parents whose children entered the priesthood or religious life. The website also features lesson plans, parish retreat resources and discernment aids.
An additional web page specifically on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations features prayers, information on vocations and an October 2012 message from former Pope Benedict XVI on this year’s theme and its importance.
Father John Guthrie, associate director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations said that the United States has “seen a slight increase in religious vocations in the U.S. over the past few years.”
“It is our hope to continue this development by helping every member of the Church to encourage and promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life,” he explained.