Multiplying Vocations by Adopting Seminarians
A simple seminarian "adoption" program sparks active discernment among parish young people.
"If a priest lives and loves his priesthood it is contagious...
Imagine the response of a congregation who sees their former altar server on a poster talking about how his parish helped to foster his vocation? There are plenty of vocations out there, but just not a lot of encouragement. We need to change that in prayer and in attitude beginning with priests themselves." Fr Brian Higgins, Atlanta, GA, USA
The need it meets
In a secular culture, vocations to the priesthood or consecrated life seem like rare and strange things. By creating a parish culture in which vocations are viewed more positively and realistically, God's call has a better chance of being heard and welcomed.
Where it came from
Former Vocations Director of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Fr. Brian Higgins has adapted these ideas from a military recruiting techniques and various marketing strategies.
How it works
The pastor leads the parish in establishing a supportive and sponsoring relationship with seminarians.
- The parish "adopts" a seminarian and prints a full page spread in the parish bulletin highlighting the seminarian - or more than one.
- The seminarian writes a brief bio that describes ‚Äúhis call‚Äù as well as pictures of himself before he entered seminary.
- Then the parishioners commit themselves to pray for him, write to him and have him come speak to youth groups when he is nearby once or twice a year.
- The same can be done with vocations to the consecrated life.
The bulletin bio page effort alone was responsible for encouraging five vocations prospects in one year in Atlanta.
The young men saw the bio and started to call up, saying, ‚ÄúHis story is my story!‚Äù They found the courage to take an active step in pursuing their vocation, knowing that they themselves would be prayed for by name in a parish.
- The pastor promotes vocations from the pulpit, referring to them in his homilies and offering prayers for an increase of vocations and makes a personal goal to recruit/cultivate at least two vocations per year.
- Adopt a seminarian, perhaps one assigned to the parish in the past with whom the people are already familiar.
- The seminarian writes an inspirational bio and commits to meeting the parishioners at some event once or twice a year.
How to implement it
In addition to the Key Elements above:
* Host a weekly or monthly parish holy hour for an increase in vocations.
* Give vocation testimonies to the youth groups and host Q&A sessions for the youth with the ordained in the parish.
* Run the bulletin bio page during a vocations awareness season or in conjunction with an appropriate liturgical feast, e.g., St. John Vianney, Sts. Peter and Paul, or the week before Holy Week, calling particular attention to the Chrism Mass.
* With the bio have various groups in the parish sponsor activities or show support for the seminarian with spiritual bouquets, care packages, fund drives, Christmas cards or Valentines from children in faith formation classes. Any number of things can be done to show charity and support.
* Promote an Elijah Cup ministry in the parish where different parishioners take the cup home and pray for an increase of vocations each week.
Fr. Brian Higgins, Chaplain is pastor of
Southern Catholic College.