From baptism to vocations Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010 -- 1:00 AM

Several years ago, the  United States Catholic Bishops changed the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week from October to the week beginning with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This usually occurs during the second week in January.

I remember wondering why the bishops made this change. Having this week soon after Christmas and close to Catholic Schools Week didn’t seem to make sense to me. (It is also a challenge to prepare special articles and coverage of vocations for the Catholic Herald right after the holidays, but we’ve learned to adjust!)

editor's view by Mary C. Uhler

In the ensuing years, I’ve begun to realize why the bishops made the change.  The feast of the Baptism of the Lord definitely does relate to vocations.

Significance of the baptism of Jesus

Jesus was not baptized as an infant. It was customary in his time to baptize adults. Therefore, he was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist, in the River Jordan. John is the one who leapt in his mother, Elizabeth’s, womb, when Mary went to visit her during her pregnancy. So we can surmise that John knew something of Jesus’ special nature.

That’s perhaps why John seemed reluctant to baptize Jesus. John knew that the son of God did not need to be baptized because he had not sinned.

But Jesus told John to baptize him and he did. When Jesus came out of the water, the Holy Spirit came down as a dove and the voice of God spoke, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Following his baptism, Jesus began his public ministry.

Following our baptism call

Likewise, all who are baptized are initiated through their own baptism to live their lives as followers of Christ: to love God and to love their neighbor.

How we do this is our vocation in life, our calling. We may do this as single or married people or as priests, deacons, or those in consecrated life (Sisters, Brothers, and others in vowed religious life).

During National Vocation Awareness Week (January 10 to 16), we might all take the time to reflect on how we are living out our baptismal call in our own lives and pray to discern whether we are answering that call as fully as possible.

Encouraging vocational call in others

In addition, this is also an ideal time to talk with our children, grandchildren, and other people we know about their own vocation. As Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, said, “It is our responsibility to encourage young people to be generous in their response as they discern the possibility of a call to service in the Church. We must also ask parents, families, and our parish communities to assist with this work.” He added that “vocations are everyone’s business.”

During this Year for Priests (continuing through June 2010), we should also make a special effort to thank and pray for all priests and seminarians. For more information on how to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life, go to the U.S. bishops’ Web site at or visit the Diocese of Madison Web site at