MADISON -- Many of the residents at the All Saints Retirement Neighborhood, Madison, are not be able at their age to hear the call to join a religious community. But, they can still do something important to promote the culture of vocations: they can pray.
An increasing number of parishes around the Diocese of Madison are becoming involved in the Traveling Chalice Program, promoted by the Office of Vocations to help families talk about and pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. With the program, each parish has a chalice and paten set in a travel case that circulates among the parish families, who take it home to pray with at the dinner table or at other times during the day.
When a young man in the parish then receives Holy Orders, he also receives the chalice and paten set prayed over by all of the members of his community. Three of the four priests ordained in the Diocese of Madison in May 2008 received chalice sets from their parishes.
And while the retirees at All Saints Retirement Neighborhood may not generate among themselves a great number of vocations to the priesthood, many of them have children and grandchildren to benefit from their prayers.
“They are great pray-ers,” said Katie Roellig, neighborhood manager at the All Saints Retirement Neighborhood. “And they really appreciate vocations.”
Roellig, along with Tom Nelson of the Madison Serra Club and the Office of Vocations, were instrumental in bringing the Traveling Chalice to the retirement neighborhood, which is located on Madison’s west side and owned by Catholic Charities of Madison.
Members of the community donated funds to purchase the set, which will have residence in the retirement center’s chapel. Eventually, it is expected to be given either to a relative of one of the residents or to a new priest from a parish that does not currently participate in the program.
The residents really understand the priest shortage problems, Roellig said, especially because they benefit from the services of retired priests who celebrate Mass in the retirement center’s chapel or at the nearby Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center.
Many of the residents already participate in five-days-a-week Eucharistic Adoration for vocations at the Bishop O’Connor Center, but this addition to their vocations prayer life brings the message closer to home.
“They appreciate priests and they know our access to priests will be compromised if we don’t grow a new crop,” Roellig said.
“Just because they don’t have children of age to go into seminary doesn’t mean they can’t pray,” she said. “This is a way for them — and me — to do something more for our faith.”
For more information on the Traveling Chalice Program and its counterpart Women Religious Kit, which includes prayer cards and two icons of women saints, contact the Diocesan Office of Vocations at 608-821-3088 or by e-mail at