By Fr. Jason McClure, Office of Vocations
“One of the reasons we have a shortage of vocations is we have stopped believing that priesthood is for real. It’s worth fighting for. It’s worth sacrificing for… I am not a dreamer. I am a man of faith.”
-Msgr. Scott Friend, vocation director for the Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas, and keynote speaker at the Diocese of Owensboro’s 2019 Vocare celebration.
Greetings and Happy New Year from the vocations office.
The vocations office would like to invite you to be a part of the mission. It’s not necessary for me to remind you that the need for priests is dire and critical. As our diocese continues to place its focus on making disciples first and foremost through an encounter with Jesus Christ, we remember that every priest is a sign and instrument that brings others to an encounter with the living God. God uses each of us, with our unique gifts and talents, as well as our shortcomings, to reach people and bring them to Jesus Christ. While there are fewer priests and a decline in the numbers presenting to study for ministry, I am confident that God continues to call men to priesthood. Our world is starved for Jesus Christ and we need more workers in the vineyard to lead people to Him.
As you might recall, the vocation plan for the Diocese of Owensboro consists of four parts: 1) Pray, 2) Invite, 3) Teach, and 4) Celebrate.
In order to keep the message fresh and effective, we continue to look for new ways to implement the plan. We are working to build a culture of vocations so that God’s call can be more easily heard and answered.
You might recall from last month’s Western Kentucky Catholic that Bishop Medley has established a vocation promotion team, to include two additional priests – Fr. Emmanuel Udoh and Fr. Daniel Dillard – as part of our promotion efforts. This bold new approach will increase our efforts to promote vocations to priesthood throughout the Diocese of Owensboro.
Additionally, this year we are placing a particular emphasis on prayer. To do so, we are adopting a program called the Matthew 9 Mission, which encourages the faithful to pray the rosary specifically for vocations to the priesthood. It is the Church’s response to Christ, who when moved with pity for the crowds because they were like sheep without a shepherd, instructed us to “ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
Here’s how it works:
- The goal is to have at least one person in each of our 78 parishes praying the rosary each day for vocations. Of course, more than one person may pray on a particular day and a person may choose to pray more than one day a month.
- Participants will be asked to pray the rosary on their assigned day each month, with the goal of having someone in each of our 78 parishes praying the rosary each day for vocations to priesthood in the Diocese of Owensboro by May 3, 2020 – the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The hope is that we will continue this effort into the future as part of our ongoing effort to pray for and promote vocations to priesthood.
- Each pastor is asked to find one person in their parish to coordinate the effort. Parish vocation representatives would be the perfect coordinator. Prayer groups, Bible study groups, liturgy committees, parish councils looking for agenda items, and other groups within the parish could also very likely be willing to take on this project.
As I travel throughout the diocese, I’m often asked, “What can we do to help promote vocations?” The Matthew 9 Mission accomplishes two things:
- It heightens the awareness of our need to promote and pray for vocations.
- It gives people an accessible way of taking some ownership of helping build a culture of vocation awareness in the diocese.
Some might say that we can’t accomplish this goal. Some may think it’s not a good idea. I believe that we can never go wrong with prayer and we all know the intercessory power of the prayers of our Blessed Mother. So I’m asking you to help us achieve this goal.
Each parish has received information for forming a Matthew 9 Prayer Team. Contact your pastor or parish vocation representative to find out how you can participate. I hope that you will consider being part of the mission.
Image via Pixabay.
For more information about vocations in the Diocese of Owensboro, visit owensborodiocese.org/vocations.
Originally printed in the January 2020 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.
Copyright © 2020 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic