Attracting Religious Vocations

As a member of a religion community (the Holy Cross Fathers) that has always attracted a small but steady flow of new seminarians, I can say a couple of things are important to attract vocations:

  1. Flexibility. What enthuses one generation does not so much the next. If a community gets frozen in the thoughts, interests, vocabulary, spirituality, and ministries of one generation only, it is virtually doomed.
  2. Hard work at Vocational Ministry. Youth attract youth. Nobody wants to be left alone. So a steady flow without a hiatus is critical.
  3. Youth Apostolates. If a community does not work with the youth, how will they come to be known?
  4. Think and Act with the Church. If a community gets to be too much into doing things its own way, thinking its own way, prioritizing its own way, the well informed will move along.
  5. Quality. Like attracts like. If a community chases numbers at the expense of quality, then future quality candidates will not be attracted.
  6. Strong formation. Young men are attracted to communities that expect the best of them.
  7. Signs of Consecration. Young men who have vocation really want to give their lives away to God, to be consecrated to Him. Habits, clerical dress, and other signs of consecration are outward reminders of the consecration of a religious, seminarian or priest BOTH to others and to the man himself.
  8. The Devout Life. Nothing replaces prayer. And nothing replaces the spirituality of your own founder/foundation.
  9. Know, Promote, Live the Charism. Each religious community has the purpose for which it was founded. No community can do everything. Do what you do. And be the best at it.
  10. Make Christ the Center. It is not the community or the work or any project or plan, but Christ who is the center.
  11. Love the Blessed Mother. She more than anyone aids vocations.
  12. “Ask and Ye Shall Receive.” It is not enough to be engaged with youth pastorally and personally. We have to identify those with the qualities and sensibilities that lend to ministry and ask them to pray about their vocation.
  13. Build up Christian Men. Preach, teach and serve in a fashion that demonstrates that priesthood and religious life are manly persuits.  Work with the men of the parish.  Develop programs for them. Build a bond among the men and be an essential part of it.

Feel free to add your own in the comment box.

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5 Responses to Attracting Religious Vocations

  1. Dr. Eric says:

    Father,

    I think another selling point (to use an analogy) is for the priests of the Order/Diocese to be real men. Orthodox men do not usually enter seminaries that have the air of being effeminate.

    I also think that from what I’ve seen (which is obviously very different from what you have seen and lived) is that men are attracted to Orders/Dioceses that are challenging; and dare I write, even demanding. The more rigorous the demands (in a good and holy way of course) the more men are attracted. At least in my case, I like a good challenge.

    I thought I’d reply. How are you doing?

  2. Fr. J. says:

    Great points, Doc. I am doing well. Havent heard from you in a while. How are YOU doing?

  3. #12?

    ASK!!!!

    It amazes me that 13+ years ago my friend Jorge and I were doing a volunteer project at a parish on a Saturday afternoon as High School seniors… A gent in street clothes came over and made some small talk – we figured out he was the pastor (this wasn’t our parish). In the course of the chat he learned we were Catholics, going to Catholic high school, and active in our home parishes. After some pleasantries he moved on and we continued our landscaping.

    Two guys, beautiful early summer day, both Catholic, volunteering when we could have been drinking beer our older brothers bought, or playing basketball or whatever…

    Did he even casually suggest “You guys ever think about being priests?”

    Nope.

    Months later I found out that priest was the vocations director for the diocese. That explains why the diocese never had more than 4 seminarians at once in the seminary during the 80s and 90s. Usually it was 2.

  4. Fr. J. says:

    Great point, SS. I will modify the post to reflect your comment and the Doc’s.

  5. Dr. Eric says:

    I’m doing well, Father.

    Please e-mail me and I’ll tell you more.

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