Efforts to encourage vocations that now include marketing campaigns featuring polished, modern posters of seminarians are seeing success, the Kansas City Star reports.
In the Diocese of Raleigh in North Carolina, the faces of 2008’s 20 seminarians appear against the background of a priest’s black cassock on a poster bearing the words “Heroes of Sacrifice.” In the Archdiocese of Houston, seminarians were photographed holding a giant fishing net to illustrate the theme of “Fishers of Men.” And in Austin, Texas, photos of this year’s seminarians are displayed on a treasure map similar to “Pirates of the Caribbean,” bearing the motto “Discover the Priesthood.”
Adam Haake of the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph is one seminarian displayed in a similar vocations poster. One poster shows him and his peers from the diocese in a group shot before the ornate altar of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church.
Haake said that he sees in the poster “a whole array of men who have answered the call.” He also commented that, “So many people tell us that when they see the poster, it causes a great hope for them.”
Jesse Garcia, the programs coordinator with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, said no seminarians have decided to enter the priesthood because of a poster, but he thinks the posters are “part of an ongoing culture of vocations we’re trying to foster.”
Many of the poster designs give both the names of the students and the names of their home parishes.
When they see the posters, parishioners “feel that their efforts are producing fruit,” Garcia said.
The web site of the vocations office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati said people should insist that their dioceses have such posters. “As young men see these faces that look just like their own, they can see themselves in the program. Also, they begin to realize that they are not the only ones feeling this call, others will walk the road along with them,” the site said, according to the Kansas City Star.
Father Mitchel Zimmerman, the vocations director for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said the posters were ubiquitous in Catholic institutions throughout the diocese.
“In some ways it’s our most basic marketing piece in that people look forward to looking at it and seeing who the seminarians are,” he said.
Keith Jiron, director of the diocese’s vocation office, also discussed the motives for the posters.
“We thought that it would be good to also let the people in the parishes know who their future potential priests are so that everyone is in the loop and everyone is pushing in the same direction,” he said.
The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has produced a vocations poster for each of the past six years.
Other efforts to increase vocations awareness include promotional videos and web sites featuring seminarian blogs. The Diocese of Raleigh has printed prayer cards so that area Catholics can pray for individual seminarians.