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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Chalices Spur Family Prayers for Vocations

By Bennet Bolton
The Florida Catholic (www.thefloridacatholic.org)

DELRAY BEACH, FL (The Florida Catholic) - A new practice is spreading in the Diocese of Palm Beach and elsewhere around the nation: families allowed, one Sunday at a time, to take a chalice home after Mass for a week of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

The latest parish to join in the concept is St. Vincent Ferrer here, which began it a few weeks ago. Families sign up at the start of the month, each requesting one particular Sunday.

“This began three years ago in the southern part of Palm Beach County at St. Thomas More Parish in Boynton Beach, then it spread to St. Joan of Arc in Boca Raton — and now it is also done with Spanish-speaking parishioners at St. Jude in Boca,” said Bob Venezia, communications vice president of the Serra Clubs in the lower county.

Serra’s mission is to promote vocations. The worldwide movement has 23,500 members in 700 clubs in 36 nations. It is named for Blessed Junipero Serra, a Franciscan priest who was a California missionary in the late 1700s.

“What we did here at St. Vincent was to copy how they do it at St. Thomas More,” Venezia told the Florida Catholic.

How the chalice effort works

One family takes a chalice home after the 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Thomas More. Family members pray every night with the chalice in their midst, using prayers appropriate to advance the need for more priests and religious. They must return the chalice in time for the 8:30 a.m. Mass the following Sunday. At St. Vincent Ferrer, a chalice goes to a family’s home after the 11 a.m. Sunday Mass, due back the next Sunday in time for Mass.

Father Joseph Kuczborski, now in his second year as parochial vicar at St. Vincent, is largely responsible for the spread of the concept. He began the vocations chalice idea while at St. Sebastian Parish in Sebastian, the northernmost part of the diocese. The chalice program idea has since taken place in other northern parishes.

“Here at St. Vincent we insist that it must be a group of family members who takes part,” said the former U.S. Air Force chaplain who retired as a major.

Participants must be families with children. Grandparents with their grandchildren are good candidates.

Parishioner Joyce Evans, who took part in the program in December, invited her daughter, grandchildren and daughter-in-law to accompany her to Mass to receive the chalice and to help with prayer for vocations. As it turns out, the entire Evans clan showed up in support of the grandmother and vocations to the priesthood.

“I think that it is really special that she got this,” said teenage granddaughter Mahalia Evans. “I think that it is really nice.”

Joyce Evans is encouraging her family members to gather with her in prayer for an increase in vocations.

“I hope they will,” she said. “Prayer from families will nurture vocations. Prayer is the one thing we can lean on to change things.”

‘Priest and chalice go together’

Parishioners at St. Vincent are reminded at Mass of the program and the parish bulletin contains notices of the project.

“We have a signup sheet at the church entrance and families can write their names there to volunteer. There are prescribed prayers that go with the chalice — prayers to be said each night at the evening meal seeking God’s help in fostering vocations,” Father Kuczborski said. “We request that the chalice be placed in the home in a quiet respectable location, not at the dinner table or atop the TV.”

Father Yves François, director of vocations and seminarians for the diocese, said the idea of a vocations chalice has been around for a while in the Catholic Church.

“It is hard to think of a priest without thinking of the chalice that is so central to his celebration of the Mass every day. Priest and chalice go together,” he said. “We want the church to be alive within the family itself, not just in the church building. The chalice and the Mass are at the heart of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. This is a beautiful thing. We hope that one day all the parishes will have this.”

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This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Florida Catholic (www.thefloridacatholic.org), official newspaper of the dioceses of Orlando, Venice, St. Petersburg, Palm Beach and Pensacola-Tallahassee, and the Archdiocese of Miami.

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