WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Vocations is launching a new campaign to transform priests into active promoters of the priesthood.
The committee presented today the “Priestly Life and Vocation Summit: Fishers of Men” program, which asks priests to reflect on the many positive reasons they pursued their vocations, to discuss those reasons with their brother priests, and ultimately to share those reasons with other men with an invitation to the priesthood.
“At the basis of the Fishers of Men program is the conviction that there is a close connection between priests regenerating their appreciation of their own priestly vocation and the creation of an environment in which men are actively invited to respond to God’s call to the priesthood,” said Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Vocations.
“Its purpose is twofold,” he said, “to renew in us priests and bishops an awareness of how treasured the gift of priesthood is and what it means in each of our lives; and to encourage us all, inspired by this renewal, to urge other men to consider the vocation which we have received as a gift.”
Research done for the Vocations Committee indicates that an invitation from a priest is one of the most effective ways of having a man consider the priesthood.
Of seminarians ordained in 2003, 78% said that a priest had invited them to consider the priesthood. A 2001 bishops’ conference survey, however, indicated that only 30% of priests actively invite men to consider the priesthood.
The program is designed to be implemented at the diocesan level, and generally includes four phases: agreement to participate in the program, preparation, summit and follow-up.
After the priests agree to participate, a sampling of priests are interviewed and asked questions like: What prompted you to consider a vocation? What were your hopes and excitement in pursing your vocation? What were those moments or experiences that nurtured your relationship with God? What do you value the most of your vocation?
The summit will help priests to reflect further on the questions asked in the interview phase, share with one another their responses, and discuss ways to share their renewed sense of contentment with other men who might be thinking about a vocation to the priesthood.
Phase four of the program is the ongoing follow up to the summit and involves the development of a strategy for keeping priests actively engaged in inviting men to consider a vocation to the priesthood.
An extensive resource kit prepared by the Vocations Secretariat, which includes everything a diocese needs to implement the program, has been sent to all 195 dioceses in the United States.
The kit also includes a trailer for a “Fishers of Men” video, produced by Grassroots Film, which can be incorporated into the summit program.