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Not in the Diocese of Arlington

Well, that can take the wind out of your sails. I just posted on what I still consider a great vocations poster. I was so impressed I passed it on to the priest in charge of vocations. I told him I thought it would be great to have postcards with that image and quote from Pope Benedict to give to parents. He didn’t answer me but had his assistant respond to me:

We have recently seen posters from other dioceses using similar images with boys. While they are endearing and clever, and no doubt might grab the interest of the faithful at large, in our opinion they do not adequately depict the mission that our Office of Vocations wants to convey.

The mission of the Diocese of Arlington Office of Vocations is …

… to seek out men and women of prayer called to witness the faith with courage, teach with clarity and serve with charity as priests and consecrated religious. We focus on the restoration of all things in Christ through prayer, hard work, generosity and sacrifice. We foster the formation of men and women deeply rooted in an abiding love for Jesus Christ, especially in His Eucharistic Presence and for our Blessed Mother, so they may become holy laborers for the Kingdom who come to ‘serve’, not ‘to be served’.

Also, the statement “No One Is Born a Priest” contradicts the truth that each person is imbued with their vocation at conception. In that regard, each priest-to-be IS “born” a priest though not formed as yet as one.

Although these are eye-catching images of boys dressed up as priests, Father prefers to hold up images of men who are presently responding to the Lord's call. His experience has taught him that those who are possibly being called to the priesthood are much more likely to act upon those promptings after seeing images of mature men with whom they can more easily identify.

You know, she is right. Young men discerning the priesthood will not be drawn to this poster. But that is not the point of this campaign. This campaign is aimed at the rest of us. It is aimed at the parents, teachers, and friends of potential priests. One of the biggest obstacles to men considering the priesthood is the lack of support they get from family and friends. The words of Pope Benedict in conjunction with this image remind each of us that vocations don’t just happen. They must be fostered and nurtured.

I know that our diocese has been successful in recruiting candidates for the priesthood. I guess the office of vocations feels it is someone else’s mission to cultivate a vocation friendly environment within families. I am just not sure who that someone else is.

UPDATE: I do want to emphasize that Bishop Loverde understands very well that families must nurture vocations. He makes this a theme of every Confirmation Mass homily.


Anonymous said…
No one is 'born' a priest. They may be born with a future calling, but it is one that is freely accepted or not. No one is obligated to accept it. (Despite what the Legionaries teach).
Jennifer F. said…
I agree - the poster really grabbed my attention as a mother and reminded me to look at my own little toddlers when praying for vocations.
Anonymous said…
I think the recent sex scandals, more than anything that was written above, are the reason why the Arlington Diocese is reluctant to use a poster with a picture of a little boy in it, particularly when that poster mentions the priesthood.
Catholic Mom said…
If you are correct about the reasoning, anonymous, how sad.
Anonymous said…
Young men discerning the priesthood will not be drawn to this poster

Really??? I see this poster and am reminded of why I feel called.
Anonymous said…
p.s. maybe they say No, because they tried it themselves and got it abysmally wrong.

That's a different diocese than Cath. Matriarch's (Arlington, VA, versus St. Augustine, FL).

Personally, I do think it's geared towards parents. There are lots of parents who actually discourage their sons when they mention they feel called. One priest at my old parish in the Orlando Diocese flat out said that was selfish. Who are we to squash The Call? And the theme that priests don't drop out of the sky clothed in vestments was a constant theme when he discussed vocations. (His family had three children, two sons became priests.) He frequently said, "Priests come from families; families like mine and yours."

I find it sad that people discourage their children. When Soccer Dad and I mention that we'd be fine if both of our girls were called to religious life (we have only the two children), people frequently ask, "What about grandchildren?" Mind you, we've both done a lot of maturing spiritually in the last ten years, but our answer is that we'd be honored if God chose them, and who are we to tell him no?

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