Many priests report that they first thought about a priestly vocation when they were 11 years old or in eleventh grade. In vocations circles, this has become known as the “eleven-eleven rule.”
What does this teach us about promoting priestly and religious vocations? A very simple lesson: that God often calls the young.
The difficulty is that young people may not always understand the call. Remember the story of the young boy Samuel? God called him twice in the middle of the night, and it took the counseling of Eli before Samuel knew to respond the third time: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
Are we teaching our children to listen to the voice of God? Are we educating them about the possibility of being a priest, sister, or brother when they grow up? In short, are we being like Eli?
With the school year already in full swing, here are some ideas for continued vocations promotion in Catholic Schools and Religious Education programs:
Sponsor a Vocation Contest Contests get students thinking creatively. For elementary school students, it can be a coloring or poster contest on a vocation-related theme. For middle school students, consider an essay contest. For tech-savvy high school students, a video contest may be best. Consider a theme such as “best re-enactment of the pastor’s vocation story.”
Lesson Plans on Religious Vocations Teachers don’t need to re-invent the wheel to teach students about priesthood or religious life. There are a host of great lesson plans already available: See Vocation Lesson Plans from the USCCB
Celebrate Vocation Awareness Week Vocation Awareness Week has been changed to November (it used to be early in January). This year it is November 6-12. Choose a theme such as “Come Follow Me” or “Do Whatever He Tells You.” Plan ahead to have a sister, brother, and priest visit classrooms and tell students about their vocations. This may be a good time to hold your poster/essay/video contests.
Form Discernment Groups For high school students, small groups of 4-10 students can meet regularly for prayer and discussion. The groups can be led by a chaplain, a religion teacher, or perhaps a parent. A good resource for girls is the book
I Believe in Love by Fr. Jean du Coeur de Jesus D'Elbee. A good resource for boys’ discussion is The Melchizedek Project . (There are many other good resources available.)
In the end, the reason for all these efforts is to reassure our children that God has a plan for their lives! Our goal should be that graduating seniors, as they look ahead to their futures, will sincerely pray, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
Norfolk Parish Center
In an effort to assist parishes with setting up their vocation committees, a post INSPIRE conference is planned for November 5th in the Norfolk Parish Center. The event is free and a bag lunch will be provided. The day begins with mass at 9:30 with Bishop LaValley and ends with a commissioning at 2:30.
The speaker is Rhonda Gruenewald, author of HUNDREDFOLD, a guide to parish vocation ministry. Register on the vocations website. The event is open to anyone who has been inspired to work to create a culture of vocation in their parish. There will be time for the team from each parish to work together and plan together.
Signup deadline: October 31
Thank you for helping promote vocations in the Diocese of Ogdensburg! Your work and prayers are greatly appreciated. ________
If you know a young man who is interested in the priesthood, please encourage him to contact us. Likewise, if you are aware of a young woman or man who is discerning religious life, please send them our way. We'll help connect them with respective religious communities. And of course, let us keep praying for each other and for all holy vocations in the Church.