Deacon Robert Fangio, Bishop Douglas J. Lucia, and Father Jason Hage adore the Blessed Sacrament during a World Day of Prayer for Vocations holy hour livestreamed from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception May 3. (screenshot from youtube.com/syrdio.)
By Katherine Long | Editor
As a sunny, warm spring afternoon unfurled outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Father Jason Hage declared it a “springtime of vocations” inside the church.
“Brothers and sisters, I believe that you and I are standing in a springtime of vocations — that as we find ourselves in a pandemic, in a time of national crisis, that this is the time to pray that many more young men and women might hear the call,” he said.
Father Hage, diocesan director of the Office of Vocation Promotion, joined Bishop Douglas J. Lucia in celebrating a holy hour for an increase in vocations May 3, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Good Shepherd Sunday. Also assisting in the livestreamed liturgy were Deacon Robert Fangio, director of Deacon Personnel, and Sister Laura Bufano, CSJ, director of Pastoral Leadership, as lector.
The World Day of Prayer for Vocations is a day set aside to pray that young men and women hear and respond generously to the Lord’s call to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, societies of apostolic life, or secular institutes (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops).
Ahead of the Day of Prayer, Father Hage and seminarians of the diocese led a virtual holy hour May 1, livestreaming lessons and reflections at facebook.com/VocationsSyracuse.
In his homily during Sunday’s holy hour, Father Hage noted several reasons why he believes this “is the time to ask the Lord for an outpouring of vocations.”
“Time has been suspended, hasn’t it?” We find ourselves in kairos, God’s time, Father Hage continued, and it is “only by living intensely in the present moment that you and I can begin to hear his call, that you and I can begin to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, our Savior Jesus Christ.”
This is a time of particular grace for young people, he noted. “Our young people right now have unprecedented access to time for silence, solitude, and reflection…. Now everything is suspended and our young people find themselves in a place where a doorway to heaven is being opened.”
This is also a time when family life can be strengthened, Father Hage said. “And we all know that the family is the training ground for selfless love, that the family is the place where vocations come from — without the family, there is no other vocation — and that a vocation to the priesthood and religious life is really the crowning jewel of married love.”
“Today the harvest is ripe, which is why I ask you to pray…. Prayer will give a young person the strength and the courage to cross that threshold and to say yes to their call,” Father Hage urged those at home.
Promoting vocations is not just about effective programming and outreach, Father Hage said, but rather comes down to creating a culture of vocation in our homes, parishes, and diocese. Such a culture is created by carving out space in our lives for silence and solitude, strengthening family life, and by turning to prayer.
Father Hage said he believes vocations — to the priesthood, to married life — are in a state of crisis now “because we do a lot of asking but not a lot of listening. A lot of our young people today grow up saying, ‘What do I want? What do I need?’ and they think that will bring them happiness and peace…. They must learn how to deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow Jesus by saying, ‘Lord, no longer what I want but what you want.”
“A vocation is not out there somewhere,” he said. “Our vocations are deep within because our vocation is not what we do, it’s who we are…. Your call is the only thing that will bring you true and lasting happiness, because your vocation is the deepest revelation of who you are.”
Once we know what God is calling us to, “everything else in our lives will begin to make sense…. because until we know who we truly are in the eyes of God, we’re kind of lost,” Father Hage said.
Quoting the words of the great mystic and doctor of the Church St. Catherine of Siena, he encouraged the faithful to listen and respond to God’s call: “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.”
For more information about discerning and supporting vocations in the diocese, visit vocations-syracuse.org, facebook.com/VocationsSyracuse, or instagram.com/VocationsSyracuse; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call (315) 470-1468.
Watch video of the holy hour below, courtesy Syracuse Catholic Television.