November 11, 2022


Is there a life better than bringing Jesus to people and people to Jesus?

If you heard a homily centered on vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life this past weekend, you were not alone.

Although statistics are not readily available, we believe there is a fair chance that pastors around central and southern Indiana and throughout the United States —and deacons who preached as well—used their homilies to highlight National Vocation Awareness Week (NVAW), which was held on Nov. 6-12.

The annual weeklong celebration of the Church in the United States is dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations.

Which leads to a question: Do you pray for vocations every day? If not that your children consider one of these vocations, that other young people in your parish or family consider responding to God’s call with the courage to serve the Church?

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, N.J., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, noted that NVAW is a time to foster vocations in our local faith communities.

“Studies of those recently ordained and religiously professed consistently show that the encouragement of the parish priest is the most influential factor in vocational discernment,” Bishop Checchio said in a statement about the weeklong observance.

“But the accompaniment of the whole faith community is key for genuine vocational discernment—from one’s parents and family members, to the Catholic educators, as well as the vital role that youth ministers and fellow parishioners play as the early encounters for young people to the faith,” he added.

Look around central and southern Indiana. There are several parishes where seeds are being planted in spiritual soil and vocations are flourishing. With 29 men in formation for the priesthood at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis and Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, and several women joining religious orders, we have examples of individuals allowing the Holy Spirit to move their hearts to discern whether God is calling them to that type of vocation.

According to the USCCB’s website, NVAW began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th week in Ordinary Time for NVAW. In 1997, this celebration was moved to coincide with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Beginning in 2014, NVAW was moved to the first full week of November.

The Criterion included a special 12-page section focusing on NVAW in our Nov. 4 issue, and in it we highlighted individuals and orders who have heard and answered God’s call to live out a vocation to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life.

Father Michael Keucher, archdiocesan director of vocations, reminded readers all vocations are embued with God’s mysterious grace and mercy.

“Isn’t that true for all of us who have followed a call of God? There’s a necessary mystery about our callings, our vocations,” he wrote. “We walk where God is leading simply because we are drawn there, and then we get there and pause from time to time, thinking, ‘I’m here, because—I don’t know why!’

“Except, of course, we do know why: God’s grace! When it comes to vocations, all is grace and mercy,” Father Keucher continued. “None of us deserves a vocation, none of us is smart enough to know our vocation and none of us is strong enough to fulfill the demands of our vocation. It is all God’s grace and mercy, from start to finish.”

While the Church has encouraged each of us to share our gifts of time, talent and treasure in living out our faith, the one constant we can all offer is prayer. Prayers to build up the kingdom of God, prayers to be the hands and feet of Christ to other brothers and sisters in need and prayers for more vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life, among other things.

Many parishes pray for vocations at ever Mass, but why not pray for them on your drive to or from work, or even better, including those prayers at home with your family?

Pope St. John Paul II offered these words about vocations: “What will you do with your life? What are your plans? Have you thought of committing your existence totally to Christ? Do you think that there can be anything greater than to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus?”

Bringing Jesus to people and people to Jesus. Could there be a more beautiful witness in living out your vocation?

—Mike Krokos

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