Praying for vocations: One step to promoting them
The push for vocations in the Archdiocese of New Orleans is in motion.
Not only does Archbishop Gregory Aymond give a shout out for vocations everywhere he speaks, but Father Steve Bruno, director of the Office of Vocations, and Todd Amick, director of the Office of Eucharistic Renewal, also have planned monthly eucharistic adoration for vocations throughout the archdiocese. The next adoration date is Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. at Visitation of Our Lady Church in Marrero.
“It began at a seminary (Notre Dame Seminary on Nov. 19) and will end at a seminary (St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict next October),” said Amick, who said churches in each deanery would host adoration during the coming months.
“I am trying to bring an awareness and need to pray for vocations – to ask the master of the harvest to send laborers for his harvest,” Father Bruno said. “Maybe it will evolve into a bigger archdiocesan event.”
While a day of adoration for vocations has been held twice annually the past few years in the archdiocese, Father Bruno said he was inspired to expand that effort while in Nicaragua serving as chaplain to medical professionals staffing a medical clinic for the poor on a Cristo Saña (Christ the Healer) trip.
Father Bruno said he attended nightly Mass in the cathedral chapel across from his hotel when something memorable happened.
“On Thursday evening, I went there and they had Mass in the main body of the church,” he said. “Then I saw a procession; there was incense. I thought, ‘This must be something special.’ Then I saw the bishop. ... I knew it was a Sunday-length homily but I didn’t understand what he was saying, although I thought something special was going on. Then the pastor, at the end of Communion, brought out the monstrance, then came the canopy and a procession.”
Father Bruno said he knew it was not a special day on the church calendar, so he asked the English-speaking guide on the mission trip and, to his surprise, he learned that every parish in Granada has a weekly vocation procession.
“My jaw dropped,” Father Bruno said. “I said, ‘Everything Thursday?’ I realized we aren’t doing enough.”
Praying for vocations
Father Bruno brought this idea of a Thursday devotion to the Eucharist and priesthood to Archbishop Aymond, who suggested rotating the location of the adoration among different parishes.
“The Priests’ Council agreed this was the way to go,” Father Bruno said, and the idea took flight.
He and Amick have invited seminarians to speak of their inspiration to discern a religious vocation at each evening of eucharistic adoration. Deacon Buddy Noel, who will be ordained to the priesthood in June, is slated Jan. 5.
Amick said whenever he is asked by a young man or woman contemplating a religious vocation, he tells them to spend time with the Eucharist in adoration.
“Often, we think we are in control instead of letting Christ doing the heavy work,” Father Bruno said. “I have heard that a lot of young people who found their vocation have seen the Eucharist at the root. ... John Paul II said, ‘Be not afraid, God will call you where he needs you.’”
“For the priest, the Eucharist is the source and the summit because the call for priesthood comes from Christ, who gives himself in the Eucharist,” Amick said. “And that call takes a focus in the summit because the priest is also called to make God’s love present in the world through that same Eucharist.”
Similarly, he said, “lay people are called to experience Christ’s love in the Eucharist and make that love present in the world, both in our families and in our work.”
Amick said Catholics in New Orleans are fortunate to have 16 perpetual chapels where people can visit Christ.
“We’ve seen this bear a lot of fruit,” he said.
Seminary enrollment up
Father Steve Bruno said he’s seen an uptick in the number of men entering Notre Dame Seminary. Over the past two years, 20 have enrolled. A total of 35 are currently studying for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of New Orleans at St. Joseph Seminary College and Notre Dame.
Having monthly adorations hopefully will boost that.
“First and foremost, I hope that it will encourage each deanery to think about doing it every month, either going from parish to parish or holding adoration monthly in a particular parish to pray for vocations,” Father Bruno said. “Some parishes are already doing more than that. Some with perpetual adoration chapels have hours dedicated to vocations, and some pray for individual priests.”
Father Bruno attributes the increase in seminarians directly to Archbishop Aymond.
“If the bishop promotes vocations, vocations come,” he said. “Every place you see where there is an increase in vocations, you will find a bishop who promotes vocations. When Archbishop Aymond gives his second homily at Mass, he will ask people if they have considered a vocation or to pray for vocations. He supports the office in the endeavors we are doing.”
Father Bruno is working to further encourage pastors and other priests to be supportive of seminarians and plans to visit college campuses to form discussion groups of those interested in vocations.