It’s Vocation Awareness Week: Pray! Invite! Encourage! Affirm! Vocations Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. Uhler

Every year since 1976, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Vocation Awareness Week (NVAW) as a special time when we pray for the renewal and strengthening of all vocations within the Church.

This includes the vocations of married and single people; men serving as priests, deacons, and Brothers; and women serving as religious Sisters.

Begins with Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

This week used to be observed in October. I can still remember in 1997 when the celebration was moved to January to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

It seemed strange to me that National Vocation Awareness Week would occur in January. Yet when I found out why the change was made, I understood it better.

John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the River Jordan, probably in front of many people. The Gospels tell us that the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove along with a voice from Heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”

The Baptism of the Lord marked the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. In this way, Jesus was fulfilling his own vocation. In turn, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord invites all of Jesus’ disciples — including us today — to remember and live out our own Baptism and vocation in life, whatever that might be.

Serra provides vocation resources

To help Catholics celebrate this special week, the Serra Club — which has been called the “vocation arm” of the Church — provides plenty of excellent materials. The USA Council of Serra International has developed an NVAW kit (available at

The USA Council of Serra International Vocations Committee was able to prepare and provide this planning kit to dioceses, parishes, schools, religious congregations, and Serra clubs at no cost through a generous grant from the Bishop Britt Vocation Fund.

One part of the kit that I found especially helpful is the Family Take-Home Page. This page has suggestions on how to celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week at home anytime during the year. These suggestions are helpful to parents as they attempt to create an environment that fosters vocation awareness in their family.

Talk and pray together

One part of the family page includes these suggestions for talking and praying together:

• Set aside time each month to talk together as a family. Continue to share about God’s call. Take turns leading the session.

• Create a family vocation prayer and pray it regularly.

• Look up the Baptism date of each family member. Celebrate it as a family. Light a candle (if you have the candle from the actual Baptism, light that one). Share pictures/video and memories of the Baptism. Talk about what Baptism means. Pray the “Apostles’ Creed” together. Parents may want to give a special gift of religious significance on the anniversary of their child’s Baptism.

Special visits

Another part of the family page includes suggestions for special vocation related visits:

• Invite a parish priest, Sister, Brother, or deacon to your home for a meal and conversation.

• Visit a seminary, motherhouse, or a monastery. Meet and talk with someone who has chosen priesthood or religious life as his/her vocation.

• Do a virtual visit online to a variety of congregations or dioceses (check out

• Go to your local vocation office and get information about religious vocations and events that may be going on in the diocese. Try to attend at least one event this year.

• Check with a local seminary or motherhouse to see what is available for your children to participate in. They may sponsor a youth summer camp or other activities.

Diocese of Madison Office of Vocations

In the Diocese of Madison, the Office of Vocations assists people in supporting and promoting vocations. You can contact the office in one of these ways: phone 608-821-3095 or 800-833-8452 (toll-free); mail to Office of Vocations, Diocese of Madison, P.O. Box 44983, Madison, WI 53744-4983; e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; or go to the Web site at

Also see the special vocation section in this week’s Catholic Herald, produced in cooperation with the Office of Vocations. It includes stories about many people living out their vocations in the Church today.

It’s time for all of us to pray, invite, encourage, and affirm vocations, starting this week and continuing throughout the year. Make it one of your New Year’s resolutions.