April 15, 2016 — Sunday, April 17 marks the 53rd annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The purpose of this day, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction to “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2).
Father Chuck Frederico, SJ, vocation director for the Maryland and USA Northeast Province Jesuits, believes that the increase in recent years to those exploring a call to the priesthood, and more specifically the Jesuits, is due in part to the excitement and example of Pope Francis. “We are seeing more and more young men inspired by the Holy Father,” said Fr. Frederico. “They’re excited about the Catholic Church and, because of the example of Pope Francis, they want to learn more about the Jesuits.”
Father Joseph Lacey, SJ, pastor at St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Church in Woodstock, Maryland, urges everyone to pray for a continued increase in vocations, adding that our daily prayers can be as brief and simple as the prayer of the faithful we offer at Mass every Sunday: “That the call to ordained, religious and lay ministries will be welcomed by young women and men in our church.”
The following prayer comes from Pope Francis’ message on the 51st World Day of Prayer for Vocations:
of the Harvest,
BLESS young people with the gift of courage
to respond to your call. Open their hearts
to great ideals, to great things.
INSPIRE all of your disciples to mutual love
and giving — for vocations blossom in the
good soil of faithful people.
INSTILL those in religious life, parish
ministries, and families with the confidence
and grace to invite others to embrace
the bold and noble path of a life
consecrated to you.
UNITE us to Jesus through prayer and
sacrament, so that we may cooperate
with you in building your reign of mercy
and truth, of justice and peace. Amen.
— Pope Francis