This week, November 7 – 13, 2021, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates National Vocations Awareness Week (NVAW), otherwise known as vocations week. This celebration started in the 1970s but has been observed at various times of the year since its inception. However, in 2014, it was moved “permanently” to the first full week of November every year.
During the vocations week, Catholics are encouraged to appreciate and promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life in some special ways. We can do this by talking to family and friends about these vocations and encouraging them to discern them. One can also celebrate this vocations week by praying for and or requesting Masses to increase these vocations. Sending financial supports to the office of vocations is another excellent way to celebrate the vocations awareness week.
We can also celebrate this vocations week by supporting men and women in these vocations individually in whatever means available to us. This is mainly those who are still undergoing formations in religious houses and seminaries. In a particular way, encouraging young men and women to discern these vocations and supporting them in the process is a work of LOVE and of CHARITY.
In our diocese, we are fairly doing well with some of these vocations. The ordination of nine priests, two transitional deacons, and six permanent deacons, all for our diocese since last year, is one evidence of this. However, there is no doubt that there has been a continuous decline in these vocations in most parts of the world over many decades. There are so many factors responsible for this decline. They are so many to mention and should not distract us from increasing efforts to appreciate, encourage, and support these vocations more intentionally.
Our failure to appreciate, encourage, and support these vocations is a work of the devil. Men and women in these vocations dedicate their lives to the service of the Church. And Satan does not like the Church. He uses every opportunity available to him to fight the Church. When we hear about all kinds of scandals involving priests and bishops, it is the devil fighting the Church. When pro-abortionists receive the Eucharist, it is the devil fighting the Church. When we ignore the evils that others suffer and keep quiet over all kinds of injustices around us simply because we are not directly affected, it is the devil fighting the Church. When people in lifestyles that contradict the message of the Gospel argue that they are staunch and holy Catholics, it is the devil fighting the Church.
These fights against the Church usually result in the decline of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. How? Because the greatest beauty of these vocations is the holiness they radiate, the love they permeate, and the faith they preach by their very existence and presence. When these satanic attacks of the Church are going on, the beauty of the vocations becomes both invisible and less attractive.
As we celebrate this Vocations Awareness Week 2021, let us pray for and support our brothers and sisters in the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life. Let us also find ways to encourage and support our young men and women to discern these vocations.