Could there be a possible connection between the 2016 National Council of Catholic Women annual convention Sept. 8-10 and the Nov. 6-10 Vocation Awareness Week observed in our diocese? Even though a couple months separate the events, the answer is yes there is a connection between the two through a NCCW resolution to support ordained and religious life vocations.
Although often used in a non-religious context, the meaning of the word vocation originated in Christianity and comes from the Latin word vocare “to call.” God calls each of us to one of the four vocations recognized by the church, ordained life (priesthood/ diaconate), religious life, married life and single life.
The majority of you reading this have more than likely answered your vocation call, while those early in adulthood may just now be in the process of discerning their vocation. In our world today there is a real need to have a better understanding and commitment to God’s vocation call. There is an explicit difference between one’s vocation and one’s profession. A vocation is a way of life and a profession is a work of life.
Vocations to the ordained and religious life are as vital to the church as what oxygen and blood are to the human person and without a source for these survival essentials, the future of both is likely to be threatened. There is no doubt that the number of individuals answering the call to ordained and religious life has drastically dwindled over time. I feel there are two things that we as the lay faithful can do to foster an increase in vocations to the ordained and religious life.
The first is to plant vocation seeds in the hearts of individuals we see or think demonstrate the qualities to live the consecrated life. The second is to keep those seeds thoroughly watered with our prayers.
During my first year on the NCCW board as province director, I was assigned to be a member of the spirituality commission/committee where we focused on projects in support of consecrated life. At the recent NCCW convention held in Indianapolis, Ind., a resource manual was presented to the membership by the NCCW spirituality commission/committee titled “Prayer Services For Vocations.”
This resource contains prayer services designed for the parish, men, women, teens, and children promoting vocations to the ordained, religious, married and single life. The manual can be downloaded in its entirety or ordered from the NCCW website at NCCW.org or just the desired sections of the manual can be printed off from the website.
I ask for your consideration in using this manual in your parishes so that as the prayers are recited it can symbolically be the hose that waters the vocation seeds planted in the hearts of humans with the hope they will sprout and grow into a bountiful crop of vocations to the consecrated life.
I make this request to the faithful of this diocese that you live fully the vocation God has called you to, that you frequently plant vocation seeds, and lastly that it be your priority to make sure the seeds are kept watered with your prayers. Our Lady of Good Counsel Pray For Us.
Mary Ann Ruether is the 2015-2017 Director NCCW Province of Dubuque.