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Friday, July 25, 2008

What kinds of Vocations Ads Speak to Young Men of Today?

"Wanted: More than a few good priests for Norwich Diocese"
Church leaders hope radio ads will fuel some interest
From The Day - Connecticut
By Kira Goldenberg

Norwich - “Have you ever thought that God may be asking something special or heroic of you?”

That's what Norwich Diocese Bishop Michael Cote is asking over the airwaves in a radio advertisement seeking to recruit men aged 18 to 50 to the Catholic priesthood.

”It's a new approach being used in our diocese. It's an approach that has been used in other dioceses that has found some success,” Vocations Director Gregory Galvin said.

The 60-second ad, written by diocese officials (Credit where credit is do, at least the Diocese is running ads - they are doing something to help promote vocations and create a culture of vocations. I suspect that if you want to reach more strong young men, the ad could be a bit stronger - not the words of His Excellency Michael Cote, but the music in the background. I don't know if flutes are going to strike a chord with young men aged 18 to 30. As I've always said, the Marine Corps has perfected the art of moving young men, real men, to do something heroic. Of course people will say that we don't need a bunch of gung ho clericalists, but we need not worry about this, that is what seminary is for - to form these men into good and holy priests. But to make that first step, to get guys to take that heroic first step, they are not going to respond to something that seems weak.) and recorded by Cote, has been running one week per month on four local radio stations since March. The bishop was happy to narrate the ad, said communications director Michael Strammiello.

There is also a TV ad featuring Galvin that ran on ESPN in the Middletown and Tolland areas during the NCAA “March Madness” men's basketball tournament, Galvin said.

”You want to market it where the gentlemen are watching. High school guys, college guys - and they all watch March Madness,” he said.

This push into new forms of targeted outreach coincides with sparse times for the diocese's priestly ranks - there are currently 76 parishes and only 62 resident pastors, Galvin said, adding that an ideal would be 228 priests, or three per parish.

Church officials announced some belt-tightening last week; four missions and parishes are closing while 13 other parishes will share pastors starting in September.

”Until the present decline in priestly vocations is stemmed, we have no other course,” Cote said of the restructuring in a letter to parishioners.

The diocese ordained three priests this year and none last year. It serves an area that is 36 percent Catholic, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Nationwide, Catholics comprise 22 percent of the population.

Galvin compared the diocesan ad campaign to military recruiting ads, made to make young - in this case - men think about a field that might not otherwise cross their radar. The approach has been used for almost a decade by the neighboring Providence Diocese. In Rhode Island, Catholics are 59 percent of the population, according to CARA statistics.

Providence's Office of Vocations has a comprehensive Web site, catholicpriest.com. “Have what it takes?” the site asks, providing short video clips in which priests discuss a life devoted to God and lists to help potential recruits discover whether they may be good fits for the priesthood.

”We just feel like that's the way to go nowadays because, for good or bad, we feel our culture is more apt to sit and watch something than they are to read,” said Providence Diocese Vocations Director Michael Najim said.

”They can be sitting down, watching a college basketball game, and next thing they know there's a commercial about the priesthood, and it seems incongruous,” Najim said. “It's not something that people think about every day.”

He added that his diocese runs ads around college winter break.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

LISTEN to the radio spot HERE.

Listen to the radio spot above and then watch these videos for comparison/contrast:

And perhaps some of the ultimate examples of what we are up against, what we are competing against in regards to capture young men's imagination:

I'm not saying ads for the Priesthood need to have the look and feel of military recruiting ads, but this is what they are watching - our ads need to be at least as captivating and motivating as these ads, if not more so. If we don't, if we fail to produce high quality, engaging media, then we will not be able to get a foot in the door - just enough of a crack that allows them to hear what God may be calling them to - their true calling in life and service much greater than that of country.

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