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WASHINGTON—The Vatican has set the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations for April 21, the fourth Sunday of Easter, commonly known as Good Shepherd Sunday.
The theme for this year's celebration is "Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith." The theme underscores the hope that vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life bring to the entire Church.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, echoed the challenge.
"The Church's basic mission is to preach the Gospel and help build a civilization of love in our world today," he said. "We need good holy priests and dedicated men and women committed to the consecrated life to help build the Kingdom of God here and now. Therefore, we want a stronger culture of vocations in our own nation to help each Catholic realize that we all have a responsibility to invite young people to consider if God is calling them to the priesthood or consecrated life."
The U.S. Bishops' website at the URL www.usccb.org/vocations hosts resources to help laity and clergy build a culture of vocations in home and parishes. Elements include videos of priests and religious men and women giving witness to their vocations, videos of testimonies from parents whose children have answered a vocation to the priesthood and consecrated life, prayers and discernment resources for men and women, down-loadable lesson plans for educators, and retreat resources for parishes.
"We have seen a slight increase in religious vocations in the U.S. over the past few years.It is our hope to continue this development by helping every member of the Church to encourage and promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life," said Father John Guthrie, associate director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. "The resources on the website are valuable tools in this effort."
KEYWORDS: Vocations, Archbishop Robert Carlson, Pope Benedict XVI, World Day of prayer for Vocations, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. Bishops, Vatican
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