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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).

In Pope Francis’ message for the day of prayer, he wrote, “I invite all of you to reflect upon the apostolic community, and to give thanks for the role of the
community in each person’s vocational journey … Each vocation in the church has its origin in the compassionate gaze of Jesus.”

 

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:

LORD 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

For more information on the World Day of Prayer, visit www.worlddayofprayerforvocations.com;
for more information on the Jesuits, visit www.jesuitvocations.org.

[Sources: Maryland ProvinceUSCCB]

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