Witness Awakens Vocations
As the new vocations director I share this message:
We belong to a Eucharistic Church in which we serve and we are served. What a grace! What a privilege! Many members, but one Body, reminding us of how just important every vocation is. We lovingly serve one another through our own vocation on our journey of faith.
Every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her vocation radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond to the universal call to holiness. St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, taught people primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that the people learned how to pray. (excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI, 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations)
Personal witness, through the example of a life well-lived as a disciple, has encouraged and inspired many young people. It is the most convincing factor in the growth of vocations. Many vocations are motivated by a number of good, happy and faith-filled holy priests and religious. We are grateful indeed that we have many holy priests and religious in our Church today, particularly in our own Archdiocese, who are giving their all in their humble, loving, faithful and dedicated service to the Church.
The call is there but we fail to respond. We do not have a vocation crisis but rather we have a discipleship crisis. Very often we have been so busy when the phone rang that we did not want to answer. Our Lord constantly rings us by the call of heart and we pretend not to hear or we may be so preoccupied with our own business that we do not hear the call.
As we belong to one Body, we are in this together - to awaken in each other, most especially our young people, the desire and commitment to respond generously to Christ’s call through our constant prayers, encouragement and well-lived lives as disciples, giving witness to our faith and our Church.
Father Joseph Phuong Nguyen
Message from Archbishop Michael Miller
The Church, as the Body of Christ, gathers at the Eucharist and is fed by the Lord's body and blood. We become what we eat. For Catholics, it is impossible to exaggerate the centrality of the Eucharist in our lives. It is our lifeline, keeping us connected to God and one another (Sean O'Malley, "Pastoral Letter on Vocations," Origins, 34:35 (17 February 2005), 553.) We are obliged, in obedience to the Lord's command, to "do this in memory of me." From the moment of the Last Supper until the Lord's coming again in glory, this "doing" requires the priest in our midst. He is the only one who, acting in the very person of Christ, can ensure that the Eucharist will be celebrated at all times and places. "The priesthood is not a human invention but a gift from God by which God continues to give himself to his people throughout history" (Sean O'Malley, "Pastoral Letter on Vocations," Origins, 34:35 (17 February 2005), 555.) So it was at the beginning, in the Upper Room; and so it remains today in our Archdiocese's parishes - just as it does in the mud chapels of Darfur and the magnificent cathedrals of Europe.
The priest belongs to the essential structure of the Church because his task is to serve the presence of Christ in Word and Sacrament. To acknowledge this specific gift to the Church, the uniqueness of the priesthood, in no way diminishes the role of the laity. They are complementary, just as husband and wife, man and woman are complementary. "Priests are there to serve the faith, hope and charity of the laity. They recognize and uphold, as brothers and friends, the dignity of the laity as children of God and help them to exercise fully their specific role in the overall context of the Church's mission" (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 17). Catholics have a huge stake in the priesthood and fostering vocations to ensure its presence. For this reason alone - that they might share in the Bread of Life with their sins forgiven - priestly vocations are everyone's business, even of those who are not Catholic but who appreciate the role of the priest in providing for the community's spiritual health.
The whole people of God share in the mission of caring for "the birth, discernment and fostering of vocations, particularly those to the priesthood." This concern to provide priests for the ministry is an "essential dimension of the Church's pastoral work, of her very life and mission" (Pastores Dabo Vobis #34). The ecclesial community of our Archdiocese has the duty of fostering vocations so that "the needs of the sacred ministry are sufficiently met in the entire Church" (Code of Canon Law, canon 233.) Therefore, it is a grace and a responsibility of every member of the Church, excluding no one, to care for vocations. Working in fraternal communion with the bishop, everyone - lay person, priest and consecrated person - is an active agent, a protagonist of this vast vocational undertaking. Thank you for accepting this responsibility.