Day of Prayer for Vocations
The Day of Prayer for Vocations (also known as Vocations Sunday) was celebrated on 3rd May 2020. This day flows from the broader culture of vocation, and is when the universal Church asks the Lord to send more labourers to the harvest.
Images to post on Social Media
Prayer for Vocations Sunday
For the Welsh translation of the prayer, please click here.
Sister Walburga is a Benedictine Nun at Minster Abbey, Kent
During my discernment to Religious Life I became very aware that the call isn’t in abstract form. It is us ourselves, with our unique strengths and weaknesses, gifts and talents that God calls. It is who we are.
I initially explored Apostolic Religious Life, wanting to be a missionary or to continue serving others in the social care field. However through my discernment, with the help of others to accompany me and as I grew in self-awareness, the sense of call became clearer. I began to wonder if my call was to a contemplative community.
When I took my First Vows I took a new name as part of taking on the monastic life. So I have acquired a wonderful Patron, Saint Walburga! Of course I am still the same person God has called by name. Or I should say I am growing into the person He has called me to be.
I have now been in the monastery over 10 years. As Benedictines our call is to a specific community and I am very happy that God called me by name to be a nun here at Minster Abbey.
Sister Walburga’s Solemn Profession
Kim Thérèse is discerning a Vocation to Religious Life with the Franciscan Sisters Minoress
I was asked to write a piece on discernment and being ‘Called by Name’, so here is my story so far. For me, I experienced an attraction to the Religious Life since the age of 15, but it was only as time passed that I went through a “YES-NO-YES” pattern from discovery and enthusiasm for learning about the life, to doubts and trials, to a final surrendering of myself to God’s will and plan for me. I realised that although the attraction was there, there was also a pull, an almost reluctance to take the step of making a commitment to a congregation to try and test my vocation. However, I could not shake the thought of consecrating myself totally to God in this way, and I knew I could not be at peace until I at least gave it a try.
I often say to people, “When you know, you’ll know” because for me, I found a perfect stillness in my heart, a peace and a strong sense of homecoming with a particular congregation, and I just knew that was the charism and place I had to “try” Religious Life or else I could never be at peace.
On this journey with God, this adventure, I found two things – firstly, that one’s vocation is never for oneself, and secondly, that no matter what your family and friends’ reaction may be, the best thing you can do is keep your gaze on Jesus and confide in your spiritual director and the congregation’s vocation director.
Francis Thomas is a 3rd Year Seminarian for the Diocese of Westminster
My call to priesthood came not through a voice or vision but through a person. Mary Lee was an 86-year-old, sick and housebound, bed ridden and blind parishioner who I visited as part of our Post-Confirmation Youth Group.
One week she asked, “What do you want to be when you’re older?” It is a dreaded question for any young person. I answered, “I don’t know.” Also, not an uncommon answer for a 16-year-old. Mary however, replied in her wonderful Irish accent: “Go on, become a priest!” I had never considered the possibility, but a seed was planted, the thought settled in my heart.
I am now several years into actively discerning the vocation to priesthood, and I look back fondly on my conversation with Mary. God called me through a person. I heard Him calling my name and personally inviting me to consider the great plans He has for me. So, it is with great joy and a sense of adventure, I continue to listen to God, speaking through people in my life.
Bill and Hannah are a young couple engaged to be married this year
We suspected God was smiling on our relationship right from the start when we discussed confirmation names: Hannah’s is Elizabeth and Bill’s Zechariah. We met at the university Catholic chaplaincy and, 4 and a half years later, we’re engaged and preparing for marriage.
We knew couples who were dating but had never talked about the future of their relationship. It was important for us right from the beginning to be open and honest with each other about everything. We opened to each other about our hopes for the future, careers we wanted, places we wanted to travel to and saw how our lives could fit together. Reflecting on it now we can see that discerning marriage really started right back when we first met. We didn’t particularly carry out any formal marriage discernment but every Mass, every time we prayed before a meal, we lifted our relationship in prayer and felt God build on it and strengthen it. Going to Mass and Adoration together quickly became part of our routine at university. Then after two years of long distance we moved to live in the same city, and yet living apart, we’ve always made an effort to try and go to Mass together as much as possible.
We have found as a couple we are better at public prayer than private prayer. Hannah lives nearby a Church of England Church with an Angelus Bell which rings every day. We also both have reminders on our phones. A habit we have got into is that when we hear the bell or our phone reminder, we stop what we’re doing (inspired by Millet’s The Angelus painting) and either say the Angelus privately or call each other to say it together. We can find it difficult at times to include private prayer into our busy routines but having this as a constant reminder of God’s love for us is important – and is a small way of uniting ourselves in prayer even when we are physically apart.
Around 4 years after our first date Bill proposed whilst we were on a trip to Brussels, and we’re engaged to be married in August – God willing! It’s been striking to see the different responses of friends from non-Christian “You’re engaged – already?!” and Christian “What took you so long?!”, but we trust that, guided by God, we’re doing it just at the right time. We’re aware that the primary vocation is to sainthood. Our hope for marriage is that we constantly draw the other person closer to God.
Fr Peter Morris is a Redemptorist Priest in Perthshire
My vocation story changes over time. Some details get lost in the telling but that’s not to say it is untrue. If I speak too broadly, it sounds a bit too lofty to make any earthly sense at all. I’ll try to strike a balance and just say: I’ve simply tried to pass on what I’ve received.
I grew up in a pious household. We greatly appreciated the holiness of our priest. We went regularly to Confession and weekly, if not, daily Mass. Of course, when Vocations Sunday came, as a young man it was always a slightly embarrassing time to be cringing in the pew!
Identity is such a personal thing – it is something a priest (perhaps a religious priest particularly) must face daily. He is surrounded by the saints, he venerates the altar at Mass each day invocating their heavenly assistance at that same table – the question of personal calling must remain pressing on the mind of the priest each day. Who am I? What is my role here?
We are all called by name and yet even more deeply the (especially religious) priest will experience that almost sevenfold – he is called by name four times (at least so far in liturgical terms) – called to stand before a community and say some rather important things. The call to holiness, to fidelity to the Gospel, obedience and so on. One is almost pummelled over a few (often) consecutive days, to be called before an assembled community (the gathering, the Church), to make an account of what is to be made of one’s life. Prayers are prayed and so forth, hymns are sung and finally we are left with an empty room needing to be swept and a number of promises echoing in the air.
That echo is the new song being sung in the world, one’s own, deeply personal, response to the call played out on the tableaux of God’s tapestry. Will one shine, or get lost in the loose thread ends? Time will tell. What is my daily response to the same personal call – “Peter, do you love me?” Put simply: love. A response faltering each time, perhaps getting stronger or weaker as the days and seasons go by. The sheep and lambs are fed one way or another.
But the level at which they are satisfied depends greatly on just how much love lets the other shine. Or put another way – how much one recognises where the food comes from in the first place. If I’m egotistical, I’ll say it’s from me and all I’ll be left with is an empty hand and hungry mouths still gaping. If one is honest and lets them know that one has only passed on what one was given, what was already broken and shared by the Master, then indeed, one will find that the hungry are fed with leftover scraps aplenty.
Speak Lord, your servant is listening… that is my story, my personal call. What might yours be?
Lizzie Wakeling is the Youth Advisor for Arundel and Brighton Diocese
As a child I was given a firm foundation in the Catholic faith. As a teenager, I started to become uninterested in the Church. A life changing trip to World Youth Day helped me realise how loved I am by God and I knew from that moment that I needed to respond to that love. I now work as the Youth Advisor for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. This role enables me to disciple youth ministers across the diocese, so that they in turn can lead young people to Jesus. And to me, this is a vocation. I was given the gift of faith, and now I must do all I can to pass that gift on to others.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed; young souls that yearn for God are so beautiful but can be so easily corrupted. My job is to help them find themselves in Christ, to guide them towards the narrow road. But I trust that this is where God wants me to be, so I trust that He will give me the tools I need to work in his vineyard, firm in the knowledge that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Ged Perkins is a Deacon for the Archdiocese of Southwark
During my formation to the permanent diaconate, I learnt deacons are called to be the Icon of the Servant Christ. At the time I thought this was a daunting task and something I was not worthy to be. However, it was through a conversation with my friend Rosie, who is learning to be an Iconographer, that helped me to gain a better understanding of my vocational calling.
The creation of a traditional icon is a labour of love which does not happen overnight. A lot of research, preparation and prayers goes into the creation of such devotional paintings. The Iconographer will search from books and pictures of the subject to examine the history of their new subject. They will then choose the right materials for their work before starting to sketch out their subject. Once the initial sketches have been completed the next step is to add the colour and finish to the work which is normally gold. Layers of paint are added over a period to ensure the work captures the different hues of the subject’s flesh and clothing. Finally, any lettering is then added to the work to complete the Icon.
So, what has this to do with my vocation, I hear you ask? Well, I have been a deacon for over three years, but I still have a lot to learn. Each day I am learning more and more about my own faith. I am deepening my understanding of God through study, prayer and corporal works, all of which are adding the different hues to my life. I know that my diaconal journey is still a work in progress, and it is far from being complete. I will endeavour to continue to add the layers of colour and detail to my vocation through my continued service to the Altar, Word and Charity.
If God wants me to journey along this road then I must put my trust in Him and fully believe that He is walking alongside me. For it is only through God’s grace that I will become the deacon Christ wants me to be.
Sister Theresa Tighe is a Daughter of Charity Sister
‘A Bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.’
I’m not sure where this saying comes from, but a sister gave it to me on a card when I joined the Daughters of Charity, and I still have that card.
When I was young, I was always dreaming about the future. Those who know me well would say I’m much the same now! What would I do in life? What countries would I visit? Where might I go? What choices would I make? The world was my dream place: open, large, exciting, challenging and full of diversity.
I could not wait to leave school, as school was not the best place for me. I did not like being in the one room all day. I preferred the play breaks!! So, I went to work, a very grown up thing to do. I worked in a school for children who were deaf and others who where visually impaired. It was a wonderful experience for me. I was working alongside the Daughters of Charity for a few years. I loved my work but I was still dreaming of what the future might hold.
Then one day, out of the blue, one of the sisters said to me, “Have you ever thought of being a sister?” I very quickly replied, “No”, but this put me into a reflection moment. Had I ever considered it? What might that look like for me? What might I have to give up? Was it all about me, or did God have something to say to me?
I loved my work. I learned to communicate well with the children and their families. I attended Mass when I could as there was Mass every day in the house which the sisters attended. I said my prayers. As I continued to develop my relationship with Jesus, I became aware that God was inviting me to something else, and this just might be to be a Daughter of Charity.
So, I left things for a while to see what happened. It kept coming into my mind so I thought I should do something about it. I went to work in London to see how I would manage away from home, family and friends, and I loved that work too. But God kept inviting me to something else.
Being a Daughter of Charity was what I did. I joined the Community and it has been the best thing I have ever done. I have a great love for my vocation and thank God each day for the opportunity to serve him in my brothers and sisters. It’s not always easy but I have met Jesus in very many different guises, especially in people in need. I live, and have lived, with amazing women, other Daughters of Charity who challenge me by their example and great love, who are so supportive, loving and kind. I know my family and friends also help put a song in my heart.
So I am still singing and I have met many birds and people. Songs are part of life and we are blessed to be able to sing.
Let’s keep singing and listen where God might be calling you today.
“I ask the Lord, with all my heart, to bless your work and to make you realise how favoured you must consider yourself because of the grace which He has given you.”
– Louise de Marillac, Co-founder of the Daughters of Charity with St Vincent de Paul
Brother James Hayes is a De La Mennais Brother in Liverpool
My earliest thoughts about a vocation (from about the age of 14) were very much along the lines of an intuitive feeling that God was asking me to give my life to him in some way. I remember about a year later sitting on the edge of my bed, holding the Grade 5 Clarinet certificate I had just received that day. I recognised for the first time a deep-seated need to continue with musical studies beyond school. “One day I will have something to say that I will only be able to say through music.”
One day towards the end of the summer holidays before the start of my final year in secondary school (Upper 6th/Yr. 13), I was listening to a song by a Liverpool band, The Icicle Works (“Hollow Horse”) and my eyes fell on a photo of all the pupils and staff of my school which I had on my bedroom wall, in particular on the face of a Brother on the front row. I suddenly had the strangest feeling come over me and I saw my face on the face of the Brother in the photo <gulp>… I was stunned, shocked. I instinctively knew that God was calling me to be a De La Mennais Brother, the congregation who ran my school. The idea initially terrified me. I was experiencing for the first time the existence of “something” beyond the physical realm of the senses.
But, that’s not all…
10 minutes later, after having briefly shared my experience with my mother who was watching television in the next room, the phone rang. It was one of the Brothers from school, inviting me round to the Brothers’ community for a meal!!! What I didn’t know was that it was my Music teacher from school who had suggested it to him. The knowing, gentle smile that appeared on my mother’s face said it all. We both knew that the phone call was a confirmation of what had just happened to me. Something was being set in motion that was far beyond what I could even begin to understand at that point, but I no longer felt quite as frightened. God was in control. I somehow knew at that instant that responding to God with a “Yes” would lead me on the path to the greatest possible happiness and fulfilment in my life… and that everything would be ok.
To quote one of my favourite songs, Coldplay’s “The Scientist”, “Nobody said it was easy, no-one ever said it would be so hard…” But at the same time, I have been so deeply blessed by graces during my life; having so many life-changing experiences and encounters, developing friendships with so many amazing people, including my confrères. I have indeed found deep happiness and fulfilment serving God through working with and for young people as a De La Mennais Brother. My cup has not just overflowed, it’s been deluged in a torrent of extravagant grace and I cannot imagine any other way of life that would have given me more joy.
P.S. This “Yes” has led me to spend 24 of the past 33 years in Liverpool. I even met the bass player of The Icicle Works during my Music degree there!