What should I say to a young man whom I think may have a calling to the priesthood?

Inviting a young man to consider the priesthood is a prayerful act that should not be done lightly. If, after praying about it, you believe that someone may be called to the priesthood, pray some more – for the grace to propose it well, and that he may be open to whatever his vocation is. Pray too for the wisdom to know when and how to speak to him.

Trust your intuition and have the courage to speak to him seriously about your prayers on his behalf, and your sense that he may have a calling to the priesthood. Don’t worry too much about his response; he may respond lightly or seriously, and he may be joyful or disturbed by your words. It would be good to have a practical suggestion for him – for instance, a vocation event that he could attend or an encouragement to speak to his pastor or the Vocation Director. You might also suggest that he use the discernment resources on this website.

Once you have spoken to him, pray for him even more intensely, especially at Holy Mass, and offer prayers and sacrifices on his behalf. Beg the intercession of Our Lady that he may be generous with the Lord, as she was. Whatever his response may be, and whatever his vocation, you will have followed the Lord’s command to “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:36-37) and perhaps planted a seed that will blossom in the future.

How can we create a culture of vocations in our parish?

It begins with prayer – your own prayer and fostering prayer for vocations in your parish. Anything you can do to highlight the need for intercessory prayer for a generous response to God’s call and for perseverance among those who have already said “yes” is a wonderful way to promote vocations. Consider joining the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Vocation Society and encourage others to do the same.

If you have a family with younger children, your efforts to build an environment of trust in God and openness to His will will manifest the “domestic Church” most powerfully. Please see this section of this website for more parental resources.

You might also consider contacting your Parish Vocation Representative (your pastor or the Vocations Office can tell you who he or she is) and finding out if there is anything you can do to help. In particular, vocations events at the parish are often in need of volunteers.

There are other fun events around the diocese that focus on the promotion of vocations - such as our own priest and seminarian baseball team, the "DC Padres"!  See the website for more detail: www.dcpadres.com.

Finally, if there is a seminarian or person in religious formation from your parish, be sure to pray for him or her particularly, and consider reaching out to see if there is any specific help, financial or otherwise, that he or she needs.

How can we assist parents who are concerned about their child’s consideration of a vocation?

The main thing is to be understanding – often enough a child’s consideration of a vocation is rather unexpected and perhaps startling. The parents may not know much themselves about the vocation and may be laboring under many misconceptions about formation and life as a priest or consecrated religious. Listen to them, take their concerns seriously, and encourage them to get more information or to contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set up a time to meet.

Please see this section of the website for some answers and resources that may prove helpful.

What age(s) should we focus on for vocations-related activities?

There is a place for activities suited to all age levels, though in a parish setting they will typically be oriented to young people from elementary school through college.

Appropriate activities for elementary and middle-school boys can plant the seed of a vocation at a young age; many of our seminarians trace their call to those very formative years. Young men in high school, too, are at a crticial moment in their lives, often asking the “big questions” in life and wondering what God may have in store for them. An old rule of thumb is “11/11” – focus on young people when they are 11 years old and in the 11th grade!

Activities for collegians, especially during Christmas and summer vacation, can provide a wonderful spiritual opportunity during a time without the stresses of college life.

What can we do to promote vocations to the consecrated life for girls?

Vocations events at parishes should sometimes include both young men and women, but often the most fruitful events are oriented to either men or women so that the specific qualities of those vocations can be highlighted and discussed. One might consider, for instance, contacting a thriving women’s religious order to see if a Sister can give a talk at your parish and share her vocation story.

Good resources can be found online at the website of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. Contact the Delegate for Consecrated Life at the Archdiocese of Washington at (301) 853-4576 for more information and suggestions.