FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11-17 Is National Vocation Awareness Week
MANASSAS, VA (JANUARY 12, 2009) - With appreciation for the important role that faithful Catholic colleges and universities play in fostering religious vocations, The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) joins with the nation’s bishops in celebrating National Vocation Awareness Week, January 11-17.
“Priests and other religious are the backbone of the Church,” said Patrick J. Reilly, founder and president of CNS. “We salute those Catholic colleges and universities that, by their sincere commitment to both faith and reason, have helped young men and women prepare for a lifetime of service to God.”
Several of the colleges profiled in CNS’s The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College have had notable success in promoting vocations, whether through formal programs, a robust campus ministry or by creating a faithful learning environment emphasizing the Catholic intellectual tradition.
One of the most successful venues for encouraging vocations is at Thomas Aquinas College, where 11 percent of students since the college’s founding in 1971 have entered religious life. In a 2007 Vatican publication, President Thomas E. Dillon attributed this success to Catholic faithfulness, the academic program, campus chaplains, the overall college community, the lay witness at the college and a supportive “like-minded” student body.
Similarly, Magdalen College, currently celebrating its 35th anniversary, has sent about 10 percent of its graduates on to religious life. Founded as a response to the teachings of Vatican II about the lay vocation and apostolate, the college graduates most of its students with a Vatican-approved catechetical diploma in addition to a liberal arts degree.
According to Magdalen President Jeffrey J. Karls, “Magdalen sees that the pursuit of wisdom is incomplete without the corresponding pursuit of holiness. This emphasis in the program, embodied in the lives of the college’s faculty and staff, encourages students to genuinely discern God’s will for them.”
“The common life, too, and the impact of the students in each other’s lives provides, as many religious superiors have mentioned, great preparation for the pursuit and fulfillment of the religious and priestly vocations,” he said.
Fifty-four men have gone into the priesthood and another 60 men and women have entered religious life from Christendom College, which opened in 1977. Tom McFadden, the director of admissions, said, “The fact that Catholicism informs everything on campus—from dorm life to academics, extracurricular events to dress code, liturgical life to athletics—students are able to always stay focused on the important things in life, like the Faith and what God is calling them to do with their lives.”
Christendom also has an annual discernment weekend, which Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde attended in 2008, and opportunities are provided at other times for students to discuss vocations with chaplains or to participate in the discernment effort through St. Philip Neri Oratory.
The Franciscan University of Steubenville and Ave Maria University sponsor pre-theologate programs for men considering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. These programs give enriching spiritual, social and academic formation in a community setting while students are pursuing university degrees. There are 56 men in Franciscan University’s program this year, and about 30 at Ave Maria.
Ave Maria also has a unique Women’s Discernment Program designed to help young women discern vocations to the religious, married and consecrated life. Religious sisters of a new Vatican-approved apostolic movement, the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, run the residential program, which includes approximately 20 women.
Father Robert M. Garrity, director of campus ministry at Ave Maria, said, “Simply put, in Newman’s terms, there is a “Springtime” happening in the Church, in which many young people want to do God’s will. We pray for all of our young people, that they will be open to God’s call in their lives, whether the call is to priesthood or religious life, or to holy matrimony, or to the single life of service.”
Among other programs are a Center for Discernment for men and women, sponsored by the Salesian order, at DeSales University, and a relationship between the University of Dallas and the local Serra Club, a national organization dedicated to encouraging vocations to the priesthood.
Joseph A. Esposito, director of CNS’s Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education, said, “These are some examples of the great work being done on faithful Catholic campuses to provide a new generation of priests and other religious. These colleges take seriously their relationship with the Church and joyfully promote and evangelize the Catholic faith.”
“Hopefully, the vocations work being done by these colleges and others will inspire an even greater commitment among the nation’s Catholic colleges and universities,” he said.
National Vocation Awareness Week was first identified in 1976, and for the last 13 years has been appropriately tied to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which this year is January 11.
The Cardinal Newman Society is a nonprofit organization committed to renewing and strengthening Catholic higher education. It is the publisher of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, which recommended 21 faithful colleges in its 2007 edition.
If you are actively discerning a vocation to the Priesthood, Diaconate, Consecrated Life, or Marriage and you are looking for information to help in your discernment, BE SURE TO CHECK the section at the bottom of the right sidebar for the "labels" on all posts. By clicking on one of these labels it will take you to a page with all posts containing that subject. You will also find many links for suggested reading near the bottom of the right sidebar. Best wishes and be assured of my daily prayers for your discernment.