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Abp Carlson: Help young people hear God's call
(Vatican Radio) This week, January 13 -19, the Church in the United States celebrates National Vocations Awareness Week – an annual week-long celebration dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life, especially through prayer and education. It offers an opportunity to renew prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations.
“It’s important . . . for young people to hear the call of God in their life,” says Archbishop Robert Carlson, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Clergy Consecrated Life and Vocations. “And it’s necessary, we know, that they would have a supportive, very encouraging environment so that they have the opportunity to hear God’s call, and also to respond.”
Archbishop Carlson says that one of the strong focuses of National Vocation Awareness Week “is that young people and old alike would hear from the pulpit . . . from the priest, talking about his own vocation or the opportunities for young people to serve the Church, either through consecrated life, religious priesthood or diocesan priesthood.” He emphasises the importance of priests for those who are discerning a vocation.
“Our Holy Father has asked us during the Year of Faith to fully realise our baptismal commitment, and that is, of course, to proclaim the Good News, to share the Gospel,” says Archbishop Carlson. “But I think in a special way during Vocations Awareness Week it demands that parents, friends, teachers, youth ministers, the clergy, as I’ve already mentioned, to take an active role in talking to young people, especially those that they feel might have a vocation.” He notes that studies have shown that young people who have been encouraged by others to consider a religious vocation are much more likely to seriously consider it.”
Archbishop Carlson says the vocations situation is very positive compared to the recent past. “What I’ve noticed is a great increase in vocations to the diocesan priesthood, especially at the college level.” He says, “Across the United States seminaries are looking at record numbers in comparison to just a couple of years ago. So it’s very positive.” In his own Archdiocese of St. Louis, Archbishop Carlson recently blessed the newly renovated Kenrick-Glennon Archdiocesan Seminary, which will now be able to accommodate an expected increase in vocations.
The Bishops of the United States, says Archbishop Carlson, “really see the importance of focusing on this ministry, and obviously the good fruit which is so evident is something which gives us great encouragement.”
He says he prays that “anyone who hears this message will take the time to invite someone to consider a vocation either to the priesthood or to the consecrated life, and if they are already reflecting that they would give their generous yes to the Lord’s call.”
Listen to the full interview of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson with Christopher Wells:
National Vocations Awareness Week (NVAW) began in 1976 when the U. S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for NVAW. In 1997, this celebration was moved to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which falls on January 13 in 2013. Beginning in 2014, NVAW will be moved to the first full week of November.