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:
- 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.
- Hard work at Vocational Ministry. Youth attract youth. Nobody wants to be left alone. So a steady flow without a hiatus is critical.
- Youth Apostolates. If a community does not work with the youth, how will they come to be known?
- 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.
- Quality. Like attracts like. If a community chases numbers at the expense of quality, then future quality candidates will not be attracted.
- Strong formation. Young men are attracted to communities that expect the best of them.
- 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.
- The Devout Life. Nothing replaces prayer. And nothing replaces the spirituality of your own founder/foundation.
- 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.
- Make Christ the Center. It is not the community or the work or any project or plan, but Christ who is the center.
- Love the Blessed Mother. She more than anyone aids vocations.
- “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.
- 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.