.- The U.S. bishops conference announced that the Church across the country will recognize and bring awareness to consecrated vocations during a special week in January.
The National Vocation Awareness Week will start on Jan. 9, the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, which marks the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. The bishops' conference emphasized that vocations week, initiated by the U.S. bishops in 1976, focuses on vocations to the priesthood, diaconate or consecrated life.
The event “gives parishes across the country a chance to promote vocations through prayer and education,” said Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis, chairman of the conference's Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
“It is our responsibility to encourage young people to be generous as they discern the possibility of a call to service in the Church,” he added. “Parents, families and parish communities must be involved in this work, since vocations recruitment is everyone’s responsibility. All need to foster a culture of vocations.”
Father Shawn McKnight, executive director of the bishops' Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations said that many people can influence a young person's vocation discernment.
“Just as Jesus needed to hear with his human ears the voice of the Father, so our young people need to hear words of encouragement from parents, other family members, friends and the parish. God’s call comes through the Church in this way.”
Associate director of the vocations secretariat, Sr. Mary Joanna Ruhland, pointed out that one reason young people “do not consider a call to the priesthood or consecrated life is the fact that they were never asked.”
During Jan. 9-16, families and parishes should highlight these vocations to their children and encourage them in the faith, the bishops' conference urged. Prayer cards for the commemorative vocations event can be found at www.ForYourVocation.org.