By Sister Rita Cameron, PBVM
Special to The Witness
The National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) conducted a study of the role of the family as an individual discerns joining a religious community/becoming a priest. The goal of the 2015 study was to provide information that could subsequently help Catholic families create a culture of vocations and encourage the option of religious life and priesthood.
The study found that recent entrants to religious life and diocesan priesthood come from families that go to Mass weekly, pray together often, have active faith lives, and encourage family members to be open to vocation options. The study was conducted for NRVC by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. It also found that new entrants tend to come from families that:
- Give importance to private and public religious practices—in addition to Mass attendance—such as saying grace before meals and bedtime prayers, displaying religious art and objects, and actively participating in parish life and charitable services
- Witness and talk about their faith in their daily lives
- Attend Catholic schools or receive parish-based religious education
- Regularly eat dinner together and gather as a family for games or discussions
- Have Catholic periodicals and other media available in the household
- Support the idea of a vocation to religious life and the priesthood
“The study confirmed what we’ve known instinctively: Families are the seedbed of vocations,” said former NRVC Executive Director Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C. “Our goal is to help Catholic parents understand their crucial role in the future of religious life and ordained ministry and encourage them to create a culture of vocations within their families.”
Parents are the first teachers and witnesses to the Gospel. The church relies on parents to awaken in their children the knowledge that they are loved and that they have a sacred purpose: to share that love with others for the great glory of God. From teaching them their first prayers to introducing them to the art of questioning and listening, parents are providing their children with the essential skills they will need to discern where God is calling them on the path of love, service and fulfillment.
Five steps are offered for Catholic families to build faith and promote vocations:
- Go to Mass on Sundays.
- Pray together: grace before meals, bedtime prayers, morning offering, and special intentions.
- Share your faith. Talk about the importance of faith in daily life.
- Be active in the parish as a lector, greeter, alter server, choir member, service volunteer.
- Encourage children to consider a religious vocation as they discern their life choices.
In the words of Pope Francis: “The family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world; it is the leaven of society.”
This is part of a series of articles sponsored by the Dubuque Area Vocation Association