Jesuit Father William P. Leahy, president of Boston College, recently gave a keynote address at a vocations summit, where he declared, “I remain convinced; there are vocations to be had in our Church — especially in the United States.”
At the June 20-21 “Summit on Vocations: Exploring Ways to Promote Vocations to the Priesthood,” archbishops, bishops, priests, vocation directors, Catholic educators, and Catholic college and university presidents discussed the results of a recent research study commissioned by Boston College and the Jesuit Conference to assess the impact of higher education on the vocational discernment of men entering the seminary and religious life in the United States.
Fr. Leahy said the key to tapping into potential vocations is an example of living “in hope and with faith” demonstrated by priests and religious engaged interpersonally with students.
“There is nothing as powerful as happy, fulfilled priests and religious. That is contagious. That attracts. So, one of the things I think is incumbent upon us is that we guard against pessimism, and that we take on those who may say, ‘I wouldn’t enter today’ or ‘I wouldn’t be a priest or a religious.’ We need to challenge that,” Fr. Leahy said.
Fr. Leahy also said the infrastructure of Catholic education still exists as a network to spur vocations.
“We have in the United States — at least in the higher-ed world — huge opportunities on our college campuses, and so do we also have possibilities in our high schools. We have a great network,” Fr. Leahy said.
Fr. Leahy said recruitment for vocations should take a page out of how major league baseball teams rebuild. He compared owners in that model to bishops, planning a way forward to bring in the right people to nurture progress.
“We have owners. So, you need an owner that will give time and commitment. …We need a general manager, could be the provincial, could be some superior. We need a field manager, who could be the vocation director — promoters. And then, we need scouts. We need people who will identify individuals who have talent, inclination, desire — who can be pointed in the direction of priesthood and religious life,” Fr. Leahy said.
“If we would do that as sincerely and as ardently as we do many other things, I believe we would have more and more vocations. The vocations are there. God has not left us orphans. We are not alone,” he said.
Read more of Fr. Leahy’s keynote remarks at The Boston Pilot’s website.