Monday, March 5, 2007


The Church is not doing enough about vocations.” Across the blog-o-sphere, in editorials, some Catholic publications, and in response to the Diocese of Cleveland’s clustering of parishes this anthem is being sung on high. And it is absolutely true. But what is often misunderstood is the “who” that makes up “the Church.”

Recently there has been a modest influx of solid men of faith into the seminaries of the Diocese of Cleveland. Wanting to know why these men are entering, the seminary asked them. (What a brilliant thing to do.) Not one of the men sighted a person in an office working for the diocese as a reason. The two biggest factors: a solid youth group and the attention that John Paul II received at his death.

Often I ask men who have made other choices in life if they had ever considered the priesthood and I am shocked at how many say they had. The number one reason they offer for not taking the call more seriously is that they say no one ever suggested it to them or encouraged them.

In my own life, I know that it was the old ladies after daily mass who would slip me a dollar and say that I did a good job serving and should think about being a priest, Fr. Ozimek who told me from time to time to think about it, and my college friends who mentioned it that kept the thought alive in my heart. Thank God for them!

If we want more priests (and religious) we have to foster a community that encourages them. Promote vocations among your children or your sisters and brothers, cousins, and friends. Recommend a vocation to someone at church that you see something in. Join a group that promotes vocations. Volunteer and bolster the youth group at your parish. Set the example of joyful Christian living in your own life. Pray for vocations. Pray for you bishop whose example can go a long way in sparking vocations. Pray for you seminary! Pray for your director of vocations. Fr. Mike Gurnik who has just recently taken over the job for this diocese is doing a great job but could use your prayers (as well as referrals.) Don’t wait for downtown to do it.

This is not an overnight fix. But overnight fixes do not last. Cures take longer and are more difficult than fixes. The west needs a cure. And we can be part of it.


Anonymous said...

A shockingly large number of my friends from college told me they once aspired to the priesthood. Mark got distracted by girls and got "too smart" for the faith in college. Phil got distracted by heavy metal music. Bill decided there was no money in it. Eric believed the "Jesus married to Mary Magdelene" conspiracy all the way back in the 80's, and he let the media poison him towards the faith as well. But when I talked to them about the truths of the faith as I understood them, they melted like butter. Ignorance of the faith and lack of encouragement did them in for sure.

Cute story....back in the 50's my uncle wanted to pitch for the Cleveland Indians. He hitched a ride to the tryouts. When the driver asked "where to?", my uncle told him where the tryouts were and that he wanted to be a baseball player. The driver asked, "Did you ever consider being a priest?" My uncle said, "Yes sir, but I'm too poor to go to seminary." The driver said, "You leave that to me." The driver was a Monsignor, and my uncle became Fr. O'Neill. I guess we shouldn't underestimate the power of a few words of encouragement.

Fr. V said...


And you? Did you think of it? (Just curious.)

Anonymous said...

I pretty sure I lack an important qualification (girlish giggle).

Fr. V said...


Rob said...

-Mark got distracted by girls and got "too smart" for the faith in college. Phil got distracted by heavy metal music. Bill decided there was no money in it. Eric believed the "Jesus married to Mary Magdelene" conspiracy-

I, too, was interested, although I actually corresponded with monasteries and was not sure about actual priesthood. I certainly didn't want to be a diocesan priest (AKA "a grunt". I'm kidding Fr. V) I wanted the glory of some religious order, at least, if not the most extreme ascetism I could find in a monastery.

Of course, I wanted to be a lawyer, too. (but only participate in courtroom drama and yell, "I object, your honor!" without actually doing all the boring paperwork involved).

Lots of people think about it, but let's face it, how many of us came from "good" Catholic homes? Mine was a mixed marriage home that split in divorce and had all sorts of problems. Not that priests need to come from angelic homes, but I think the real problem (and I am not altogether sure there is a problem) is that there is a shortage of Catholics, not a shortage of priests. There is an actual lack of environments in which a priest can be raised. Someone raised in a firmly Catholic home is unlikely to be distracted by many of the things sparky mentioned, or many of the things that happened to me.

So, I am doing the next best thing. I am praying with my kids, taking them to mass, and trying to teach them the traditional moral values of The One True faith. Pray for us.

Even if none of them become priests, father, they'll hopefully grow up and put a few bucks in the basket to keep you in your retirement.

uncle jim said...

...and at MY parish of 650 families, we hadn't had 5 seminarians in the past 10-15 years.
several [maybe 4 or 5, now] years ago, some vocations concerned parishioners asked for and were granted that our parish would have a couple of days of eucharistic adoration through the course of the month - intention: vocations. Starts after the last morning Mass on Sunday, and continues through eucharistic devotions that evening at 7:30p and concluding around 8:15/8:30p [includes a homily or talk].
We now have 5 semnarians in the past two years...and a couple more now considering entry.

AJB said...

... I think the youth need a hero. My family is not the most Catholic, and my friends are a mixture of the "Super-Catholics" and the "Anti-restrictions"... however, JPII was a great hero, and he inspired many living heroes, the personal interaction of a hero with the youth is what propels the whisper of a vocation to the realization of one. One of the heroes my priest has is JPII, my hero is my priest... and my vocation has found a stable foundation upon that history and tradition that other realized vocations have found.

Funny side-note of a story: Today I e-mailed the diocese about a nun run this weekend. I asked four questions: The name of each order, where they are located, if they have a website and if they wear a habit. The Sister responded to the first three… I wonder why the fourth scared her so much.

Fr. V said...

Rob - You and your family have prayers coming your way. Oh! for more families like yours.

Uncle Jim - A bit of debate over here. Is you parish located in a neighborhood or a city setting?

ajb - Walking on egg shells - I hate to say this - it does pain me - but when something is dying, it gets angry and defensive. So I imagine this person is being EXTREMELY careful . . .

paramedicgirl said...

There's still hope, Father. I pray the rosary every day for vocations, and I'm currently paying specifically for thirteen men who are discerning their vocations, and my list keeps growing. And that's a good thing!