By Laura Keener.
The Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations will culminate, Sunday, Nov. 25, the solemnity of Christ the King, with vespers, 3 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. Bishop Roger Foys will preside at the service with all the priests of the diocese attending. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend.
Bishop Foys opened the Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations (YOPPV) on the solemnity of Christ the King 2017. The idea of a year devoted to praying that young men would hear and answer God’s call to the priesthood came from diocese’s Vocations Team.
“My hopes for the Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations was to inspire people to deepen the culture of vocations in the diocese,” said Bishop Foys.
The YOPPV featured several initiatives appealing to the faithful of the diocese to better understand the vocational call to priesthood and to the practice of public and private prayer supporting vocations.
The hallmark of the year was the development of the Prayer for Priestly Vocations and prayer card. The prayer card was distributed to every parish, school and household in the Diocese of Covington. Bishop Foys asked that the prayer be prayed at every Mass during the year. Families were encouraged to include the prayer at mealtime or bedtime or whenever the family gathered for prayer. Individuals were asked to include the prayer in their daily prayers.
“Prayer is essential,” said Father Young. “Public prayer, in particular, helps support those who are interested in pursuing a vocation.”
Father Young said that supporting young men and women in their pursuit of a priestly or religious vocation is important because the vocation — dedicated to God and in service to God’s people — is countercultural. Only two percent of people consider and pursue a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. Private prayer is essential, too, especially for anyone discerning a vocation.
“God answers every prayer — those who are discerning and those who should be discerning — so private prayer is important, too,” said Father Young.
Throughout the year, the Messenger featured a monthly series of articles written by priests sharing their vocation stories, how they heard and responded to the call, and how important prayer has been, and is, to their vocation.
“If anybody is going to talk about vocations to the priesthood it should be somebody who has had that call and lived that call,” said Bishop Foys. “We had a broad range of priests, from the very young to older, who have embraced this life or have lived this life, share their experience. They all wrote to the same thing, and that is, the call from God.”
Every deanery in the Diocese of Covington hosted a Holy Hour. Following each Holy Hour, young men interested in learning more about the priesthood were invited to a dinner with Bishop Foys and the priests of deanery.
“The deanery events went very well,” said Father Young. “Smaller crowds than we were expecting but still good.”
Another major effort of the YOPPV was a series of Vocations Days held at the high schools and Thomas More University. Father Andrew Young, vocations promoter, visited diocesan high schools and TMU for all-day vocation events. At many, retreat leaders from the Jesuit Spiritual Center, Milford, assisted him. Sisters from the local motherhouses also participated, sharing information about a religious vocation with young women.
Bishop Foys attended the Vocations Days, celebrating Mass at most of them.
“Overall the high school visits went very well,” said Bishop Foys. “The days that I attended there seemed to be an enthusiasm among the students. Father Young reported to me that they had good questions. At least we introduced them to the idea that God is still calling people and he might be calling them. It’s like planting a seed. Now we wait to see that seed grow. Two years, five years, 10 years from now somebody might be struck by something they heard from one of the presenters.”
As the YOPPV comes to a close, the need for praying for priestly vocations does not. In fact, Bishop Foys said that as the Church addresses, again, the sex abuse crisis it is perhaps more necessary than ever to pray for vocations — asking God to touch the hearts and minds of men who will be dedicated to holiness.
“We keep up our efforts,” said Bishop Foys. “These are challenging times and challenging times call for people of faith to face those challenges. Perhaps now more than ever we need good candidates for the priesthood. We need good and holy priests. So, we double our efforts now to recruit candidates — young men who are dedicated to a life of holiness and are fit candidates for the priesthood. We look for candidates that are interested in living a life of self-sacrifice and are willing to take on the challenge of this crisis in the Church.”