Catholics throughout the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, Nov. 2-8. This annual observance, sponsored by the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, provides the faithful with an extraordinary opportunity to directly promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life through prayer and encouragement. It is made more relevant this year as the Church embarks on the Year of Consecrated Life, which will be begin on the First Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2014 and close on the World Day of Consecrated Life, February 2, 2016.
“Vocation Awareness Week encourages people to not only focus but also pray for vocations,” said Father Jorge Torres, director of Vocations for the Diocese of Orlando. “We want to form the culture of vocations that leads men and women to discern where God is calling them, and to let them know that the Church supports them.
The Diocese of Orlando makes concerted efforts to promote vocations throughout the nine-county region. Many parishes have Vocations ministries where the faithful pray for and encourage the call to priesthood and religious life throughout the year. In addition, the diocese’s Office of Vocations hosts men’s and women’s discernment groups, as well as vocation awareness weekends for young men and women.
“Prayer and support of vocations throughout the year is important so that future priests, nuns and religious can come forward and say, ‘yes’,” Father Torres said, adding that it is important to also pray for the religious who already serve the faithful.
The people of the diocese are blessed with a group of priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and 35 seminarians, who are dedicated to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, and prayerfully guide and inspire the faithful.
In his November 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis underlined the continued need to build a culture of vocations.
“The fraternal life and fervor of the community can awaken in the young a desire to consecrate themselves completely to God and to preaching of the Gospel,” Pope Francis wrote. “This is particularly true if such a living community prays insistently for vocations and courageously proposes to its young people the path of special consecration.”
Observance of Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. Bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for the celebration. It was later moved to Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January. Last year, after extensive consultation, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations moved the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week to November to engage Catholic schools and colleges more effectively in this effort.