By Katherine Long
April 17 will mark the 53rd anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, a day to publicly “fulfill the Lord’s instruction to, ‘Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest’ (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2) (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops).” On this day, the Church is asked to pray especially for vocations to the ordained ministries, consecrated life, societies of apostolic life and secular institutes.
Diocesan seminarian Matt Rawson, a native of St. James Church in Syracuse, is currently spending his pastoral year at St. Joseph’s Church in Endicott. He said the prayers of others have indeed helped him during his discernment and formation — though he may not have recognized it at the time.
“My pastor always said, ‘Keep an open mind. Pray for an open mind.’ And that’s something that really stuck with me — to pray for an openness to God’s will in my life. And I think that’s where other people’s prayers really helped me in my own discernment.”
Of course, the fruits of those prayers can’t always be seen right away, Rawson noted — in his case, not until he took that “blind leap of faith” and entered the seminary.
Since then, prayer has continued to buoy Rawson. Sometimes it’s in the form of a friend lending an ear, or a note to say “we’re praying for you.” Those things mean a lot, Rawson said.
It’s “amazing to know that there are people out there that I don’t even know that are praying for me [and] that are praying for the vocations in our diocese,” he said. It’s humbling, he added, and it “definitely helps to know that somebody out there is praying for me when I need it.”
Numerous prayers for vocations are available at usccb.org, as is a special prayer from Pope Francis (see box at right). How else can you support vocations, on the day of prayer and throughout the year? Here are some suggestions from Father Joe O’Connor and the diocesan Office of Vocation Promotion:
Organize a holy hour for vocations at your parish
Include vocations in the Prayers of the Faithful
Provide vocations prayer cards for parishioners
Hang a poster of the diocese’s seminarians in the church
Provide seminarians’ names and addresses so parishioners can send cards and letters
Have a vocations awareness table in the church vestibule
Organize a vocations panel for your parish youth group
Speak to your parish’s Confirmation classes about vocations
Form a vocations committee or become a parish vocations advocate
For additional resources, more information on the ideas listed here, and more about the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, visit vocations-syracuse.org or contact Father O’Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.