The encouragement and formation of vocations in the Church is the task of all of us. We cannot depend on others to meet our needs. Families, communities, and parishes must help our young people to hear the call that God gives to serve the Church.
The importance of personal guidance cannot be overstated. When I was a young man, Monsignor Keilty, out of his own experience of Jesus and his love for the Church, invited me and other young men in our parish to consider the possibility that we might be called to be priests. Several of us entered the seminary. Who knows what would have happened if no one had invited us? We need the same to be happening today.
We are a Church that draws its life and strength from the Eucharist. We need priests to make that possible. As we strengthen our parish communities as places of welcome where young people can encounter Jesus, we need to engage them in conversation about what the Lord might be calling them to do with their lives. When we see young people who show signs of love for the Eucharist and a desire to serve others, we can invite them to pray about what God could be telling them to do with their lives.
I encourage you, whether you are a parent, priest, parishioner or member of a religious community, to invite someone you know to consider a religious vocation. We all have a vocation, a call from God to live out our lives in a particular way. In helping our young people realize their particular call, we might also ask God to assist us in living better the call he has given us so that we might better serve him by the example of our lives.
For more information about National Vocation Awareness Week, visit www.usccb.org/committees/clergy-consecrated-life-vocations/national-vocation-awareness-week.