Skip to comments.Six Habits of Highly Effective Dioceses (Catholic Caucus)
Posted on 02/11/2007 8:54:33 AM PST by Frank Sheed
Six Habits of Highly Effective Dioceses
Why are some dioceses better at attracting vocations than others? In Tim Drakes recent story Vocations Surge, the Register provided some answers to that question.
BY The Editors
January 28- February 3, 2007 Issue
Posted 1/23/07 at 8:00 AM
Based on what we learned, here are six questions successful dioceses all answer Yes.
1. Is the Eucharist the center of vocation efforts?
We found that the promotion of Eucharistic adoration for vocations is a decisive factor in attracting candidates. The reason is simple: Its a vocations strategy that came from Christ himself, when he told the apostles to ask the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers.
Eucharistic adoration is especially effective because it draws sharp attention to the great gift that makes the priesthood so extraordinary and so needed we have the priesthood to thank for Gods real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. And the dynamic of silent Eucharistic adoration inevitably leads to the question, What do you want me to do, Lord?
Anecdotal evidence bears this out. In conjunction with the U.S. bishops, Vocation.com kicked off an effort in 2005 that delivered Vatican monstrances to dioceses in order to encourage regular adoration in parishes. Program leaders like David Craig have been astounded to see parishes produce their first vocations ever after Eucharistic adoration was introduced.
2. Is the diocese unabashed about personally inviting men to be priests?
Father Keith Stewart in the Diocese of Memphis, Tenn., counted this as the key to his vocations strategy. A U.S. bishops survey found that 78% of those being ordained said they were initially invited by a priest to consider the priesthood. Very few men were drawn to the priesthood by ads alone. One of our sources said that the seminarians he talks to say they only began to consider the priesthood the third or fourth time they were asked!
3. Is the seminary faithful to the magisterium of the Church?
Weve all heard horror stories about seminaries using theologians who try to de-mythologize religion, and end up denying basic truths of the faith. The Register has reported on situations where seminary instructors downplayed celibacy, offering only a sneer regarding the very sacrifices they are asking young men to make.
The seminaries that are booming, like Mount St. Marys in Emmitsburg, Md., St. Vincent in Latrobe, Pa., and St. Gregory the Great in Seward, Neb., are ones with a reputation for being faithful to the magisterium.
4. Are there many strong and faithful families to draw from?
There are beautiful exceptions, but the rule is that priests come from committed Catholic families in which the father is an active player in the familys faith.
These families are most common, we found, in places like the South and the Midwest, where the faith is relatively new and isnt taken for granted, or is actually under attack.
In the Northeast, there are lots of Catholics so many that the faith seems to have become part of the scenery. But wholesome families are more common in the Bible Belt, and Catholics are in a minority. They have had to endure the strange looks and the vigorous or even vicious arguments of those who think theres something strange about being Catholic.
5. Do young men know and interact with priests?
What do priests do, pray all day? The priests life is largely a mystery to young men. Unless they meet and interact with priests at parish functions, but also at dinner with their families it may never occur to many young men that the priesthood is a life that would appeal to them.
The Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio, is one of many dioceses involved in Project Andrew, hosting dinners with priests and young men so that they can meet and so that the all-important invitation can take place.
For many priests, serving at the altar was the first place they first came to know men who had been called and understood what the call entailed. Parishes should make sure that boys feel welcome at the altar, and that altar serving isnt, in effect, girls-only.
6. Did young people in the area go to World Youth Day?
The World Youth Day factor is very real. Many men in seminary trace their enthusiasm back to a World Youth Day. These events give young people with high ideals a chance to see that the Church will allow them to have a big, positive impact on the world one that lasts for eternity.
God has never stopped calling young men to commit their lives to him. But we have sometimes stopped listening as well as we could. As more dioceses adopt these highly effective habits, the vocations surge will only get stronger.
Catholic Vocations Ping!!!!!!!
Looking forward to reading this.
The downside is that if too many young men decide they have vocations to the priesthood, my daughters will have to marry Southern Baptists. I cringe every time the cute Cuban boy who's teaching Bill to play drums says " ... unless I'm called to the priesthood ..."!
Your daughters are adorable. I hope "Der Prinze" owns a shotgun...and can shoot.
OT: my brother used a neat tactic whenever one of his daughters brought over a new beau for him to meet. He was always at his workbench cleaning his .44 magnum. His 3 son-in-laws are all avid hunters and go out with "Pop" The other beaus never returned!
Anoreth's basilisk glare will drive off any but the most determined. (Which may not include the sweet Cuban boy ... he might be better for Elen :-).
When the little girls are older, I thought I'd fix up all the brothers with rifles, like the Last Ride of the Dalton Gang.
Males with guns keep the courting "civil" as they say in the South. I always thought my brother was a genius; he didn't get a loser in the bunch.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In October we will end the year dedicated to Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist, which was proclaimed by the late Pope John Paul II and carried over by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. It has been an extraordinarily grace-filled year as we have had the opportunity to reflect more profoundly on our Lord’s abiding presence in this Sacrament of the Altar.
At the end of this year, Bishop Shaheen and I, at the request of our priests, have decided to focus on Jesus Christ and his priests. Our Lord is present among us in His people – clergy, religious and laity - and in a special way, through his priests. The presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and in his ordained priests, are two sides of a profound mystery. His presence in the Eucharist is perfect and divine. His presence in the ordained priest is imperfect and human. The priesthood on earth belongs, not to angels, but to men. Therefore, the lofty and eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ is presented to the world through men who are weak and sinful, yet called by the grace of Holy Orders to serve at His altar and to minister His Mysteries (Sacraments) to the people they are called to serve. This gift, an amazing sign of God’s great trust in man, is worthy of a deeper and more profound reflection.
When participating in the ordination ceremony of a Maronite priest, who among us can remain unmoved, when the Bishop places the Eucharist on the head of the newly ordained priest and asks him to walk among the people in solemn procession? We are so moved because the human and imperfect are holding aloft, the divine and perfect Mystery of God’s love! To further reflect on this great mystery, Bishop Shaheen and I have decided to dedicate this year to our priests and to prayer, work and discernment of vocations to the priesthood. As we priests reflect on our vocation to the priesthood, we invite everyone to reflect as well, on how they live out the gift of their vocation as parents, married and single people or religious.
Recently, I was asked how I knew I was “called by God” to be a priest. Never having been completely sure I was “called,” as a young man I felt a quiet invitation from Christ to give of myself more generously to whatever He wanted of me. With the help of a priest and a friend, I decided to explore and accept the adventure of listening to this call wherever it led me. The rest is history!
In this upcoming year, dedicated to Christ and his priests, let each of us recommit to our efforts to foster and pray for vocations to the priesthood.
It is the responsibility of all of us - clergy, religious and laity - to fulfill the ministerial needs of the Church and to work for vocations. Some can pray, spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, some can invite men to consider a priestly calling, some can join the Order of Sharbel and help educate seminarians, some can serve as catechists, choir members, volunteers, NAM members, Knights of Columbus, Ladies, Men, Young Adult and Youth leaders who enable the priests to be more effective ministers.
In whatever capacity God has called us, let us focus on our own vocation and how we listen to God’s quiet voice in our lives. Let us also make a generous response to him as a starting point to foster our own calling, the true vocations of others, and the art of listening to God.
In this way, we will become even more a “listening Church” and a “generous Church”.
May the prayer of the Mother of God, Mother of priests, and Mother of all those called to witness to her son, Jesus Christ, be with us.
Sincerely yours in Christ
+ Gregory John Mansour
This year, the Maronite Voice, a monthly publication of the Maronite Catholic Church in the US, is featuring a picture and biography of a different seminarian, each month.
Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary opened its doors on September 24, 1961. On January 10, 1966, Archbishop Zayek became the first Maronite bishop of the United States, and took responsibility for the seminary. Under the guidance of Archbishop Zayek, his successor, Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi, and Bishops John Chedid and Robert Shaheen, the seminary has experienced rapid growth and a steady influx of vocations and ordinations. During its forty years of existence, sixty-one men have been ordained to the priesthood. (Note that up until the establishment of this seminary, ALL Maronite priests came from Lebanon. Some of our priest, like my pastor, still come to these shores, to serve the Maronite Catholics in the US).
The Rector, alumni, and students of the Maronite Seminary have played a prominent role in the diocese by producing texts on Maronite liturgy, catechetics, theology, spirituality and history. Over the years, many Maronite and Latin Rite church officials and civil dignitaries have visited the seminary. These have in included Patriarch Khoraiche in 1981 and Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir in 1988 and 2001, a number of Maronite Bishops, several Prefects of the Sacred Congregation of the Oriental Churches and every Apostolic Delegate and Papal Pro-Nuncio to the United States.
Thanks to a generous contribution by Mr. Anthony Abraham of Miami, Florida, a new wing was added to the Seminary in 2001. Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir, dedicated the new structure on March 6, 2001. The new wing features a library, computer area, seminar rooms, and housing for faculty and seminarians. It can also serve as a nucleus for a Maronite research center.
OUR LADY OF LEBANON MARONITE SEMINARY - Washington, DC
PS - I've got my eye on one young man in our parish (he's only 14). His uncle is a Chorbishop and his cousin is a priest. From time to time, I compliment him on his dedication as an altar server and then plant the seeded question ;-)
All of these points make sense.
One I hadn't thought of before in this connection of encouraging vocations is having a priest over for dinner. I have noticed that the custom of inviting the pastor over once in a while to have dinner, to get out of the rectory, make the rounds, and meet the parishioners, which used to be very common, has pretty well dropped out of use in all the parishes I have been in since Vatican II.
That's something that maybe members of parishes could do to encourage. Talk to the pastor, invite him over, talk to friends who might also invite him, and encourage him to make the rounds of the parish. I don't know what priests do these days during the week, but it seems as if they generally do less and less, and that can't be healthy for them or for their parishes.
Excellent. Be back after our Lent Fair. Hardly seems possible that Lent observances begin next Monday and next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday.
My parish, St. Christopher's in East Hartford just got a new head pastor, a young man in his early 40's, a member of the JPII generation.
This article is good considering that I have just started to be educated to become a lay member of the Carmelite Third Order. Also I am going through a time of learning what God is calling me to be because I am not certain what He is directing me to chose. For those who are posting on this thread, pray for me.
I've got four cute Cuban sons and I hope all will be saying " ... unless I'm called to the priesthood ..." That will mean my wife and I are doing are jobs right that they remain open to it. :)
second are=our (I still need my Cuban coffee this morning!)
Yes, I understand that perspective, too.
Congratulations on your sons!
Thank you. And congratulations to you on a great looking family. My wife enjoys getting together with the Catholic homeschool group because we don't get the odd stares for having 5 kids. If anything, we are one of the smaller families.
We had a very active Catholic homeschool group in Tulsa, and it was fun going to the park with three moms and 19 children :-).
We're in a nondenominational group here. The families with double-digit numbers of children seem to be Baptists.
I am a member of the Militia of the Immaculata and have been invited to join the lay Carmelites several times (my age is a consideration; I'm older than dirt ;-o). It is a beautiful Charism and I have given it serious consideration.
The Carmelites are a wonderful Order; I still wear my brown scapular always with my Miraculous Medal. I ask God's Mother to assist you in your decision.
And, may I make a suggestion? Please read "Father Elijah" which is a remarkable book and part of a Trilogy on the end times. It is available from any Catholic book site, Leaflet Missal on-line, or Catholic Company.com. It could be the "whisper" you are waiting to hear.