Fr.Joseph OConnor - Message from the director of the Diocesan Office of Vocation Promotion The Vocations Office in the Diocese of Syracuse is staffed by two priests who work together with the Seminarian Review Board to assist Bishop Robert Cunningham in cultivating religious vocations in the diocese.  Father Tom Servatius, who is also the pastor of St. Augustine’s Parish in Baldwinsville, serves as Director of Seminarians. He handles the application process and oversees the formation of the young men preparing for priesthood in the diocese.  Currently, there are guys at seminaries in New York City, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Father Servatius works with the formation faculty at these seminaries to assure the seminarians are being formed into good and holy future priests.  The other work done in the vocations office, promoting religious vocations throughout the diocese, is coordinated by me.

Thanks to the vision of Bishop James Moynihan and the continued support of Bishop Cunningham, I have had the privilege of serving full-time in the vocations office.  This has allowed me to take a multi-faceted approach to promoting vocations throughout the diocese.

Through the generous support and warm welcome of our Catholic schools, I commit significant time to the classrooms…and playgrounds…of all the Catholic schools in our diocese.  At our high schools, I spend a full week visiting all of the religion classes doing special vocation presentations.  The week concludes with a day of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  I am convinced that the best thing we can do to help young people find their calling is to teach them how to listen to Our Lord in the Eucharist.  I also visit every one of our elementary schools and go from room to room reading stories, doing activities, and answering questions about God’s call.  I even stop by the cafeteria and playground.  It is amazing how much vocation promotion happens while eating a school lunch and playing kickball.  Yes, priests can play kickball!

After a busy school week, I visit  parishes to speak with students in religious education and confirmation classes.  I have also had the great fortune of preaching weekend homilies.  I use this opportunity to invite parishioners to share in the work of promoting vocations.  I hope that many of you who have heard me have taken up the challenge to tap a young person on the shoulder and ask them to consider a religious vocation.  I also have had a chance to work closely with the Youth Ministry Office.  I have attended National Youth Conferences and World Youth Day celebrations.  (It was hard, but someone had to go to Australia.) I also work with other religious sisters and brothers at the Diocesan Youth Rally to answer the questions our high school students have about religious life.

While the work of vocation promotion is often done best by pastors and parishioners who see the giftedness of the young people around them, I do plan large group events to fire up communities.  One very popular program, covered frequently by the Catholic Sun, is the Men In Black game.  These basketball, and now soccer, games draw hundreds of fans.  It is great for them to see that their priests and seminarians have multiple talents and interests.  Look for the games this winter to come to the Cortland and Utica areas.

Another annual event is the Bishop’s Vocation Picnic hosted in Lafayette each August. High school students gather for prayer and discussion with kids their age.  It is impressive to see so many young people open to the possibility of a religious vocation.  Out of that group comes a small group of college-aged students who want to keep discerning while at school.  They meet for monthly holy hours and dinners as well as for an annual retreat with other discerners from New York State.  Whether or not they enter seminary, this time is well spent drawing closer to the Lord and learning to recognize His call.

There are many more things going on in vocation promotion that you can be a part of.  See the sidebar on this page for a few ideas or visit the webpage www.vocations-syracuse.org. As always you can call the office at (315)470-1468 or email
joconnor@syracusediocese.org.


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