World Day of Prayer for Vocations Set for April 21

PORTLAND---The World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated by the Catholic Church on Sunday, April 21, 2024.. The Fourth Sunday of Easter is commonly referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday” for the Gospel reading about the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, just as Jesus did for us.

The purpose of this day is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Mt 9:37-38). Prayers will be offered on Sunday 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. 

“In our prayers this weekend, we will ask the Lord, deliberately and especially, to give us more priests,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “Though we need all the vocations of the Church, we have a special need for priests in our diocese. We are helped by our missionary priests, but we need more men to serve together in bringing the message of the Gospel to life throughout Maine.”

“When we speak of ‘vocation,’ then, it is not just about choosing this or that way of life, devoting one’s life to a certain ministry or being attracted by the charism of a religious family, movement or ecclesial community. It is about making God’s dream come true, the great vision of fraternity that Jesus cherished when he prayed to the Father ‘that they may all be one’ (Jn 17:21). Each vocation in the Church, and in a broader sense in society, contributes to a common objective: to celebrate among men and women that harmony of manifold gifts that can only be brought about by the Holy Spirit,” said Pope Francis. “Priests, consecrated men and women, lay faithful: let us journey and work together in bearing witness to the truth that one great human family united in love is no utopian vision, but the very purpose for which God created us.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations released a study on ordinations in the Church conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. A few of the major findings of the report are:

  • On average, responding ordinands first consider the priesthood when they are 16 years old.
  • Around 40% of respondents attended a Catholic school on the K-12 and/or college level.
  • Around 90% were encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life (most frequently, the parish priest, friend, or another parishioner).
  • Before entering the seminary, 72% of those set for ordination prayed the Rosary.

“Pray the Rosary as a family. That could be a powerful way in which those who are living out the vocation of marriage in family life can work to strengthen the Church by teaching their children of the love of God and the need to serve each other. Praying together in this way brings prayer into daily life and helps our young to see it as important,” said Bishop Deeley. “I am convinced that my vocation to priesthood was nurtured in my home where, at the end of the day, we prayed the Rosary together as a family. They are the first prayers we learn as children. In the praying of them, we come to know the truths they contain: God loves us, he cares for us, he has a plan for us which calls us to serve each other, and he wants us to be with him eternally in heaven.”

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

“Let us pray, brothers and sisters, that the People of God, amid the dramatic events of history, may increasingly respond to this call. Let us implore the light of the Holy Spirit, so that all of us may find our proper place and give the very best of ourselves in this great divine plan!” said Pope Francis.

For more information about discerning a vocation in Maine, visit where you will find a variety of helpful resources including information about the life of a priest in Maine, the path to the priesthood, the history of the presbyterate in Maine, vocation stories, and answers to frequently asked questions.