Why vocation programs don’t work

Living examples of discipleship are the only things that will increase vocations.

For some time now we as a Church have been scrambling in an earnest attempt to remedy our vocation problem. The vocation of marriage has taken the worst beating, as over half of the marriages in our country end up in divorce, Catholic marriages included. Rare are the women who are entering religious orders, which seems to be a big part of the reason the Vatican is conducting their current visitation of women’s religious communities; men’s communities are doing a little better. Our diocesan seminaries finally seem stable, although our numbers are far from what they could be. Candidates to the permanent diaconate appear to be the lone bright spot, although they have their own issues. And then there is the vocation to single life, which, like the sacrament of confirmation, in some sense still seems to be searching for a theology.

Millions of dollars have been spent by vocation offices on prayer cards, lesson plans, vocation week activities, homily helpers, discernment brochures, websites, and an array of other vocation promotion materials, but have these approaches really made a significant impact on our young people? Sadly, the answer is no. For all the effort that has been put into vocation awareness in recent history, our returns have not been very good, but it is not for lack of effort. Bishops, vocation directors, DREs, catechists and parents, have been working diligently to address the lack of vocations in the Church, but very little has changed. Sure, there are some orders and some diocesan seminaries that are doing better than others, but the overall vocation picture remains the same. It seems to me that the real problem is that we’ve misdiagnosed the vocation situation, and therefore, we’ve been spending all our time, effort and money on the wrong things. In other words, we’ve been treating the symptoms without ever recognizing the disease.

The root of our current vocation problem is a lack of discipleship. Of course, a disciple is one who encounters Jesus, repents, experiences conversion and then follows Jesus. All too often those of us in positions of Church leadership presume that all the folks in the pews on Sundays, all the children in our grade schools, high schools and PSR programs, all the kids in our youth groups, all the men in our Men’s Clubs and all the women in our Women’s Guilds, and all the members of our RCIA team are already disciples. Many are not. (The same can be said of staffs and faculties of Catholic institutions.) Our people may be very active in the programs of our parishes, schools and institutions, but unfortunately, such participation does not qualify for discipleship.

 

If the root of our vocation problem is a lack of discipleship, then the remedy is to make more disciples, just as Jesus commanded. But how is this accomplished?

First, an important principle to keep in mind is that disciples beget disciples. In other words, if we are really serious about fostering better marriages, holier priests, more devoted religious, and generally a more faithful and dedicated Church, then those of us who are already married, ordained, and consecrated, and who identify ourselves as Catholics must take a good, hard look at our own lives and evaluate how our discipleship measures up. How long has it been since we last experienced real conversion and transformation? How often do we repent of our sins? Do we really allow Jesus to rule our lives, or have we fallen into the ancient trap of Pelagianism, ultimately believing that we save ourselves? Do we really know Jesus? Do we allow him to really know us? These questions are important ones, for unless we as a Church can offer true models and exemplars of discipleship with our own lives, very few will seriously consider living the kind of life we live.

The inspiration to consider a vocation rarely comes from vocation literature; it comes from real people living out their vocations in the real world. In order to know what it means to be a good family, a good priest, a good religious, and a good Catholic, one needs to have living, breathing examples of each. I would have never considered the priesthood if I had not known some great priests as I was growing up; the seminarians I teach continue to tell the same story about their call. Disciples beget disciples—good marriages beget good marriages, good religious beget good religious, good priests beget good priests, and good Catholics beget good Catholics. When discipleship is modeled well, it becomes an invitation for others to become disciples themselves.

Second, we need to reevaluate how our parish groups, ministries, and programs operate. We have to ask if these groups are truly fostering discipleship, or if they are simply social groups that happen to meet on parish grounds.

Let us take the example of a parish youth group to serve as a microcosm for our current situation. A youth group has a similar structure to most parish groups, in that most parish groups identify themselves in four ways: spiritual, service-oriented, social and catechetical. For a parish youth group to be what it is supposed to be, the first priority of the group must be to make disciples of young people who do not know Jesus, and to make stronger disciples of the ones who already know him. Such a suggestion seems quite basic and even simplistic at first glance, but this is precisely the point. Far too often we as a Church have failed with the most basic principle of discipleship while loading up on service projects and social activities, and the parish youth group becomes just one more line on a young person’s college résumé, without ever calling that young person to real conversion.

It is true that young people tend to stay out of trouble while socializing with peers from the parish, and that service projects help build character and allow young people to move beyond themselves, but without being disciples, such activities never allow for true transformation and human flourishing. Over and over again we as a Church have fallen into the subtle trap of settling for results that can be easily calculated, photographed, and documented in a parish bulletin or website, rather than getting down to the basics of discipleship. Granted, opportunities for socializing and service projects are goods that the Church offers young people, but young people can find these goods outside the Church as well, which is why youth groups that don’t get beyond social gatherings and service projects aren’t very good youth groups. A youth group that is primarily about the work of making disciples is another story indeed.

Youth groups that are filled with disciples and are about making new disciples are youth groups that allow their young people an opportunity to fall in love with Jesus. Again, I realize such a claim seems simplistic and perhaps a bit pious, but nonetheless it is true. Coming to know Jesus is foundational; not just knowing his ideas or teachings or his history, but really coming to know him. If a youth group is able to offer a young person an opportunity to know Jesus, to know transcendence, intimacy, depth, and a real sense of mystery and being part of a something greater than himself, it will be hard to find a space big enough to gather the young people together.

If youth ministers and, more specifically, priests take the time to teach their young people how to pray alone, in community, liturgically, before the Blessed Sacrament, with an icon or crucifix, in nature, with Scripture, or with a journal, disciples will emerge. Don’t be fooled; young people desire to learn to pray and to pray well, and they want their leaders to teach them.

Moreover, it’s all too common that those working with youth soft-step around difficult or controversial Church teachings in an attempt not to drive young people away. Gone are the days of young people defining themselves as liberal or conservative Catholics. The stakes are much higher today: either you believe in God or you don’t. As the Southern novelist Walker Percy said upon his Catholic conversion, these days it is either “Rome or Hollywood,” there is no more middle ground. As such, young people want to be challenged. They want to think and understand and wrestle with big ideas. So why not spend time teaching them about the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Paschal Mystery, the Liturgy, and the Last Things? It is no secret that the Church’s teachings on sexuality are counter-cultural, but this is precisely the draw for so many young people—that the human person is more than simply an object of pleasure, and that there is something beautiful about God’s creating us male and female, in his image and likeness, and that there is a divine plan for the way we express ourselves.

When young people come to know Jesus, they will develop a deeper appreciation for the Eucharist. And when young people finally find their identity in the Eucharist (and not a pizza party, bowling or laser tag), young people will naturally want to socialize and do service projects, because these activities will flow out of their discipleship. When their lives are formed by the self-giving love of Jesus in the Eucharist, they will want to make themselves a gift for others, and their service projects will take on new meaning as acts of justice. Once young people become disciples, they will want to come to Mass, to spend time at the parish, to serve those in need, to gather for recreation, and to read good books and articles about the faith, and to really help build the Kingdom of God. But none of this can ever happen without the most foundational, and often forgotten, principle of discipleship.

Take any parish group or any Church institution and apply the discipleship principle, and the story will be the same as it is with the youth group. No matter how well-crafted a mission statement is, or how well group facilitators have been trained, or how well-developed a program may be, no matter how much time and effort and money was put into a lesson plan, workshop, meeting, or retreat, it is all for naught without discipleship. We may get things done, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that things are being done for the sake of the kingdom.

The real sign of discipleship ultimately shows up in vocations. So why don’t vocations programs seem to work? Because vocation programs all too often presume their target audience to be disciples, and many are not yet there. The real remedy to our vocation problem isn’t a bigger and better vocation program. Rather, the remedy will be found at the most basic level of discipleship, the universal call to holiness: knowing Jesus. Once people come to know Jesus, repent of their sin, experience conversion, and become disciples, they will naturally draw others to follow him too, in whatever vocation they are called.

Disciples beget disciples. If more married couples, priests, religious and faithful begin to take discipleship seriously, there won’t be a vocation problem, because ultimately our vocation problem is a lack of discipleship. The solution to this problem is so fundamental that is often overlooked and misdiagnosed, but the remedy is as old as the Gospel itself. If we, as Christ’s Church, take the call to discipleship and evangelization more seriously, the vocation problem will be lessened. Let us continue to pray for reform and renewal and, ultimately, for the Holy Spirit’s pouring himself out on his holy Church, the Bride of Christ.

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avatar About Fr. Damian J. Ference

Fr. Damian J. Ference was ordained for the Diocese of Cleveland in 2003. He earned his licentiate in philosophy at the Catholic University of America in 2009 and is currently an assistant professor of philosophy and member of the formation faculty at Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio.

Comments

  1. avatar HPR Site Admin says:

    This was a popular thread on the previous HPRweb site, and we wanted to maintain the conversation regarding it. Some were comments were nested (in reply to other comments, not the article); unfortunately, that formatting has been lost. The comment section follows.

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    Sherry Weddell – Co-Director, Catherine of Siena Institute |71.38.13.Xxx |2011-02-04 11:Feb:th
    Fr. Ference:

    Thank you so much for your essay. You are outlining in a very clear and compelling manner the first and most essential problem we face, which is that the majority of our people, practicing or not, are not yet disciples.

    And everything follows from that. It is so encouraging to know that there is a priest involved in seminarian formation who “gets it” so clearly.

    One of the stunning discoveries of blogging has been the intense negative reaction to talk of discipleship across the ecclesial spectrum. Even the name of our blog: Intentional Disciples, generated a massive mega-discussion in the early days. To talk of discipleship was elitest, judgmental, divisive, etc.

    I’ll be forwarding your essay to everyone I know! God bless you and your ministry!

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    Vince Michael Sabal, SDB – Particular Signs of God’s Presence |112.207.20.Xxx |2011-02-22 20:Feb:nd
    Indeed, our present world needs witnesses! The priests and religious are being looked up to by many especially the young…

    we are challenged to be the ‘sacraments’ or living signs of God’s presence today in order to increase and invite more vocations…

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    Jon White – Discipleship is sorely missing in our parish today |204.87.16.Xxx |2011-02-04 13:Feb:th
    I agree that discipleship is not plentiful in the Church today, and that its lack is the core reason for a lack of clerical, religious, and marital vocations. I pray that God shows us the way to demonstrate cheerful, joy-filled discipleship to others so as to garner the interest and imitation of others in furtherance of the Church’s mission to evangelize the world.

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    Adam Haake |213.203.138.Xxx |2011-02-04 13:Feb:th
    And when a Bishop stands as the model disciple, that is, the model of holiness, and shows us how to carry the Cross in our day, a seismic quake happens: for the Holy Spirit quickens to draw men to hear the Fisherman through the bishop’s voice. Through such bishops God can ‘raise’ vocations from where there was nothing at all.

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    Cissy Rampino |74.229.224.Xxx |2011-02-04 14:Feb:th
    Father thank you for this wonderful article! Something I have been screaming from the rooftops for quite some time now. A holy priest who was celebrating the Mass at our parish stated homilytic gold….” Your life may be the only Bible story anyone reads”!! As the mother of a seminarian, I see both sides to this problem, as the person sitting in the pew and as the mom of a future priest who is privy at times to what is going on BEHIND the scenes.
    This is how I will sum up my answer to this problem………God comes in whispers, we just need to be quiet to hear Him!

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    Fr Eric – Fr Eric |70.182.246.Xxx |2011-02-04 14:Feb:th
    Good article Fr. Ference. We have all seen the prayer cards, fliers, etc of religious orders who don’t get it. They will die in their narcissistic anger. The temperament of many places of formation has/had an inordinate and strange fear of being Catholic. Yet, Fr. DF addresses the reality of what is out there before the young men and women ever get to the seminary or convent. Beneath everything in the parishes is the virus of the contraceptive culture. These persons may attend Mass, but they do not trust God. Those who do not trust God do not see why their sons or daughters want to sacrifice their lives for the Church. We cannot out-entertain the world to reach the youth. We must simply preach and live the truth. JP II’s Theology of the Body is not only a guide for marriages but also for priesthood and religious life, because what is really at stake is humanity in its masculinity and femininity. Bishops and superiors who waffle on the truth of human nature and sexual morality will not bear fruit in vocations to priesthood and religious life. The men will become emasculated and the women will be angry.

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    Angela Santana – Right on the money. |69.152.230.Xxx |2011-02-04 14:Feb:th
    Thanks for this great post, Fr. Damian. I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve gone through a twisting-turning vocational discernment, wanting to be single, religious, and now finally looking toward marriage – not because of anything other than real people who inspired and challenged me. The man I’m currently dating has had a similar background. We feel called to be a holy married couple, which is something our world is desperately hurting for. Enough talk about how great it is to be Catholic; let’s truly encounter Jesus and let our lives be the evidence.

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    Marc Cardaronella |76.227.73.Xxx |2011-02-04 14:Feb:th
    You are absolutely right Fr. Damian! Disciples beget disciples. The problem won’t be solved through lectures and marketing campaigns but by formation…and we need to do more of it.

    I think also vocations are fostered to a large extent within the family. When parents start making the priesthood a viable option for their sons, you’ll see more vocations.

    Of course, that goes back to discipleship…the level of discipleship of the parents.

    Thanks for this essay Father!

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    Adam Haake |213.203.138.Xxx |2011-02-04 14:Feb:th
    Vocation posters and prayer cards, I’ve come to think, are not for recruitment: They are for the faithful people in the pews. So often people from the pews look at them as they leave mass and say “help is on the way”; they see young seminarian’s faces and see a sign of hope. Kids point and brag about there parish’s seminarian. Posters, prayer cards, are not for not meant only to primarily attract others to priesthood, but I would agrue primarily they are signs of hope for the local Church. Something that puts some Catholic swagger back in our step… a small thing though.

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    Rev. William M. Weary – pastor |72.95.49.Xxx |2011-02-04 15:Feb:th
    Fr. Ference:

    No argument on your discipleship assessment but your article is weak on “how to.” Yes, some youth groups are successful but many parishes struggle to get youth to show up at all, even with laser tag or pizza. The kids are often even more turned off by a strong catechetical and/or spiritual approach. You indicat that they long for it but I just don’t see it, in great numbers. How do you get them in and hold them? Practicalities, please. Fr. Bill

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    Seamus Maloney |74.109.232.Xxx |2011-02-09 10:Feb:th
    Fr.,
    Come to an Emmaus Weekend in Pittsburgh 3-18 to 20 and you will find out how to evangelize any age group. I, and many others sat in the pew for years without really knowing why…the Emmaus Weekend has completely changed my life and it took 61 years to discover a real relationship with God.

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    Joseph Klapatch |94.6.101.Xxx |2011-02-04 18:Feb:th
    Father,

    Due to your vocation as a priest and what I suspect was a well formed understanding of scripture and the magisterium during your childhood and teenage years, you are overlooking a key factor in the problem. When I was pursuing a physics degree in college I had two very different professors. One was one of the most scientifically gifted minds I have had the pleasure to work with and the other was not quite as gifted. Which one was the better teacher? The one without “the gift”. Why? He was a better teacher because he saw the problems from the perspective of us ignorant students. It is that same basic concept that is causing you to miss a key cause to the problem of dwindling vocations and moreso the lack of faithful Catholics.

    A lot of Catholics today miss the importance of not only a solid foundation in Catechetical matters, but moreso the philosophy, theology, and reason behind the fullness of truth that lies in the church. I was raised a Catholic by two Catholic parents. I went to CCD as a child and was taught the faith from what I would call a “rules and regulations” perspective. I was taught the moral laws of the church, I was taught the things that made up the beliefs of the church. In CCD classes they taught what we were and were not to believe. But what was never addressed was the why. When I went off to college I, like many of my generation, fell away from the church.

    Whether it is right or wrong our American culture developed from a spirit of rugged individualism and a tolerant disdain for authority. We question EVERYTHING. We trust very little. Because of this culture many of us tend to stray to our feelings vice our reason. After all, “if thats what I feel, than thats what I am going to do to make myself happy, right?” The problem and challenge with going with what feels right, is that it removes truth, or better stated objective reality from the situation. If during the formative years of a child’s life we teach them to think critically about everything and accept nothing on faith then they will be able to recognize the fullness of truth that lies within Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Magisterium. The challenge we, as members of the Catholic Church, must step up to, is to teach and guide the next generation how and why the teachings of Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium are the fullness of truth.

    I found my way back to the Church. I spent 20 years wandering in the dregs of both atheism and pseudo-paganism. they attracted me because they played to my reason driven mind. There were three people that played a strong role in my return to the Church. First and foremost was my now wife, one of the most faith filled people I have ever met in my life. Another was a Parochial Vicar from the church she dragged me to every weekend, who spoke the truth from the pulpit without shame and without compromise. And the other was a friend of hers that was a director of religious education in a local parish who spent hours with me over many dinners and many emails rebutting all of my objections and pointing out to me the flawed logic behind my reasoning and the true reasoning of the Catholic Church.

    Please don’t take these comments the wrong way. Discipleship is very important but, in this age of a radical self fulfilling culture, faith and moral teaching alone will not bring those who have wandered from the church back home to our Lord Jesus Christ. Nor will it prevent those who are subject to the negative influences of todays hedonistic pop culture from wandering away from him. We need to raise our successors to think for themselves along the lines of St. Thomas Aquinas.

    Warmest Regards and Prayers.

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    Eric |208.40.76.Xxx |2011-02-10 23:Feb:th
    St Thomas Aquinas was able to approach those difficult questions reasonably and faithfully precisely because of his discipleship. To paraphrase St. Augustine, “Do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe so that you may understand.” Discipleship is always primary. Like you said, all those other ideologies appealed to your reason. That is why as Catholicism appeals to the heart. While the heart is staying close to Christ is when the mind will be most able to understand the reason behind it all.

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    Steve Murray |70.240.6.Xxx |2011-02-05 09:Feb:th
    Most “vocations” today are too immature to develop into anything integral to the life of the Church. Your best bet is to attempt to recruit older persons who have lived in the world longer and have decided that a religious vocation is what is best for his/her life. Once the storms of youth have passed, and that means a person over 35 years of age, a more suitable candidate will emerge.

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    Liz |192.175.182.Xxx |2011-02-05 09:Feb:th
    As parents, we have to be willing to support vocations to our children if they are interested, just like we support any career or anything else in their lives. My mother was a very devout catholic, but I remember being interested in being a nun, and my mother said, if you do that won’t be able to have a family or children. Plus it is a huge commitment, and you suffer alot. Most of us take the position, well, let someone else do it, but not my family. Definitely not the support we need in discernment. So my question is, are we willing to see our children as preists, nuns, religious brothers? Are we willing to see them persecuted as, Jesus was persecuted.

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    Phil |65.35.225.Xxx |2011-02-05 12:Feb:th
    There are in our parish three devout families (daily comminucant parents) with a total of fourteen sons. All of them are very successful professional men in various fields of work. Not one called to priestly vocation My wife and I have four married daughters and one son ordained priest in ’09.
    We are deeply grateful to our loving Lord, but can’t help ask Him “not even one of those others,Lord?”

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    Jared |98.227.24.Xxx |2011-02-05 15:Feb:th
    As a guy in high school, I totally agree with the fact young people are attracted to the truth and seeing people live out authentic lives of discipleship.

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    Lee Gilbert – “Vocations Crisis” is a Misnomer |71.236.209.Xxx |2011-02-05 15:Feb:th
    When my son went into first grade 26 yrs ago I took a look at the religious education curriculum of the parochial school to which we were sending him. In reaction, we began to work with the Baltimore Catechism every night for about fifteen minutes.

    I had had the good fortune to read Dorothy Sayer’s essay, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” in which she suggests that the time for memory work with children is when they are very young, so I did not feel as if were engaged in some kind of psychological child abuse. Believe it or not, the kids really ate it up.

    By the time my son came to his First Holy Communion at age seven, I remember specifically (this was twenty years ago) that he knew 27 questions and answers about the Mass as a Sacrifice…and much more besides. The incredible thing to me was to discover that so did his four year old sister, Stephanie. Going *into* First Grade she knew all that her older brother did and much, much more, for we had continued to work with them. She knew her basic prayers in English and Latin, the 36 line version of the Shield of St. Patrick etc, etc.

    My point here is not how brilliant my kids are, but that most of our Catholic children are being robbed blind. They are capable of much, much more, not only of knowing more but of being more.

    It is very easy to kindle the love of learning and the love of God in the hearts of very small children. We read the lives of saints to them, too, and did not read down to them. Many times we read full length, adult level lives- often interspersed with the question, “What does that mean?” For example, around the ages of ten and twelve we read them The Cure of Ars by Trochu (here let it be noted that the basis of all this was that we did not have a TV)

    There were very many good effects of all this. There was no phase of teenage rebellion in our house, no drugs, pornography or drinking, no suicide, no mental illness, no brush with the law or the courts. Emphatically, avoiding all this was a good part of the animus behind my efforts, to give my wife and I the placid years that we are presently going through.

    As a wonderful by product, however, is the fact that in 2007 our daughter entered a cloistered Carmelite convent in Nebraska. She herself has indicated that her very early formation had everything to do with this.

    The whole experience has caused me to think that framing our “vocations crisis” as such does the Church a real disservice. There is no vocations crisis. There is a parenting crisis. There is a formation crisis.

    In short, I agree with you completely, Father.

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    April |69.88.207.Xxx |2011-04-06 16:Apr:th
    To Lee Gilbert, Excellent advice from someone who has been through it. We give up TV for Lent every year and it’s wonderful. The kids have more time to read, etc. We should just throw it out completely. I am reading Trochu’s “The Cure of Ars” for the 3rd time. I love this book. St. John Vianney is awesome.

    Congratulations on your daughter entering the Carmelite convent. Our 2 sons both say they want to be priests, they are only 7 and 9 so we will wait and see :)

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    Lee |71.236.209.Xxx |2011-04-06 23:Apr:th
    Thanks, April. It’s wonderful to hear of what you are doing, of course. But why not be that happy all the time?

    Here is a blog comment I made somewhere else in response ot a parent who was worried about “the culture” and its likely efect on his family.

    Create Your Own Culture

    As a matter of fact, you can hide your children from sin and scandal for quite a long time, time enough to form them up as strong young Catholics. You can keep the television out. You can keep the Sunday paper out. You can bring the lives of the saints in. You can bring the catechism in. You can bring good literature in. You can fill your home with wonderful stories and music and song. You can create your own culture.

    As a Catholic father, you have NO obligation to expose them to temptations to mortal sin or to the ways of the world.

    The idea that you can explain modern culture to them is something that probably causes knee slapping hilarity in Hell. You live and move in a world filled with snares and plots and stratagems of which you have very little idea.

    Even your explanation would be a snare.

    Fathers were created for the express purpose of protecting their children. They have a moral obligation to keep them from scandal, and NO obligation whatever to explain it to them.

    You can bring them up practically to their teens without exposing them to grave scandal. You can form up their character, intellect and imagination along strong Catholic lines so that when a whiff of evil comes their way, they know it, and know what to do about it.

    We raised a daughter in the eighties and nineties, years not known for their chastity and holiness, and packed her off to Europe when she was 18 for her Rome Semester, where on breaks she travelled with a few friends all over Europe. There was plenty of scandal all round, of course, but on our part little to fear.

    All of this, ALL of it, was the grace of God who dealt with me sharply as a young father to keep my home clean of scandal.

    And now He has the nun he evidently wanted.

    “Nothing impure in the home,” said Pius XII, quoting the pagan poet Juvenal.

    And now a pet peeve- parents who complain about the culture on their way to Target to buy an even larger entertainment center.

    In other words, Catholic parents are the main vector of scandal into the minds and hearts of their own children. And they will answer for it.

    Dad, you are the gatekeeper. NOTHING comes into your home without your permission.

    There is no need to “fight a constant battle against a culture that both inundates and seduces impressionable minds with messages hostile to our faith.”
    The one decision, “No TV!” wins that battle decisively. The alternative is to be the nagging parent, “Don’t watch this, don’t watch that!” THAT drives kids nuts and provokes rebellion.

    Your approach is going to constantly involve you in trying to rescue the situation after the damage is done- unless you have the program or ad script in front of you as you watch TV together and can turn the set off just before it lodges some wickedness in your childrens’ minds.

    Throw the damned thing out and have a happy, holy, prayerful, peaceful Catholic home.

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    Carol Uhlarik |67.162.60.Xxx |2011-02-05 22:Feb:th
    What is discipleship? According to Pope Benedict XVI, “Christian tradition deliberately speaks not simply of following Jesus but of following Christ. We follow, not a dead man, but the living Christ. We are not trying to imitate a life that is past and gone nor to turn it into a program for action with all kinds of compromises and revaluations. We must not rob discipleship of what is essential to it, namely cross and resurrection and Christ’s divine sonship, his being with the Father. These things are fundamental. Discipleship means now we can go where Peter and the Jews initially could not go. But now that He has gone before us, we can go there too. Discipleship means accepting the entire path, going forward into those things that are above, the hidden things that are the real ones: truth, love, our being children of God…Discipleship is a stepping forward into what is hidden in order to find, through this genuine loss of self, what it is to be a human being.”

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    Sky Six – Vocations? |99.174.229.Xxx |2011-02-06 09:Feb:th
    As one who used to recruit and help form vocations for religious life, I know you are right. Well written.
    Furthermore, young people are by nature at a stage in life when they are looking for a purpose. They will embrace even heroic challenges when offered to them for what they really are.
    Finally, I had a professor in Rome who challenged the contemporary idea that marriage is a “vocation.” His doctrine was that marriage is the normal and natural way of humankind, but “vocation” in the Church is always rooted in Gospel uniqueness. A true vocation requires a special grace from God. Many will not agree, but it is something to think about.

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    John |208.102.19.Xxx |2011-02-23 23:Feb:rd
    Marriage does require special grace from God. It’s also rooted in “Gospel uniqueness” or it couldn’t be a sacrament. It’s also a calling, which is what vocation means (from Latin, just like vocal). There’s no way marriage would not be a vocation, even if it is the “natural way.” I strongly agree with everything you said that your professor did not.

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    Bill Jerome |67.187.39.Xxx |2011-02-06 20:Feb:th
    What a great post!! Send it to all the dioceses.

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    ricky ribo |112.205.109.Xxx |2011-02-07 02:Feb:th
    The Philippine Alliance of X-seminarians (PAX) joins you and the rest of the concerned members of our Church in the journey to discipleship.

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    Anne |67.183.153.Xxx |2011-02-07 16:Feb:th
    I’m not sure the problem can be summed up as a discipleship problem. Perhaps a truth problem. Scratch the typical pew-sitter in a Catholic church and you’ll find a relativist who is embarrassed by the word “truth”. Look at the mission statement of the typical parochial school and you’ll find nothing but a litany of secular values. Check out RCIA and you’ll find either an encounter group reveling in personal disclosure or the most inoffensive, watered-down, and often erroneous, treacle imaginable. Check out the homilies and they’re nothing but odes to “love”: an evidently warm, fuzzy feeling that Jesus had a lot of. Check out the trivialization of truth in the bland and infantile liturgy. Check out the adherence to trendy causes in fund-raising: sales of “fair-trade” products with a total buy-in of the latest environmental fad. Check out Jesus in the mop closet.

    Why would anyone anticipate that disciples would come forth from these conditions? Exactly what or whom would they be disciples of?

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    John |71.10.103.Xxx |2011-02-14 12:Feb:th
    The “Truth” is certainly important but once one possesses it, one must still act as a disciple. Certainly there are many like you describe but there are also many faithful and otherwise fervent Catholics who wouldn’t give first thought to encouraging a religious vocation in their children. See Phil’s comment above.

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    Erin Hale |68.57.216.Xxx |2011-02-07 17:Feb:th
    I am a 31 yr old woman who converted to the Church at 19. Since then, I have been immersed in a largely Evangelical subculture, first in college, and then while working for several years at a Christian health ctr.

    I could not agree more w/Fr’s assessment. The evangelicals I have seen are VERY serious about their faith–they read the Bible daily, join “small groups”for study and support, hold one another accountable for good behavior, and generally take their spiritual lives seriously. They are serious disciples, and it shows.

    Repeatedly, I have almost left the Catholic church and joined one of these Evangelical churches. It is only by the grace of God that I remain a faithful Catholic.

    At my parish, there is, of course, daily Mass. Otherwise–the ONLY group meeting for fellowship is the local chapter of AA. Young, spiritually serious Catholics are starving to death in our parishes. I pray that your article is taken seriously and more opportunities for discipleship are created.

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    Bill |199.107.16.Xxx |2011-08-22 11:Aug:nd
    Erin: And yet the evangelical youth fall away in roughly the same percentage as do other denominations. There has to be more than small groups and Bible reading – there has to be teaching by trained catechists and exemplary lives, as well. And the point not really made in this article (notwithstanding its great points) is that priests have to preach it from the pulpit that young people should consider churchly vocations.

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    The Ironic Catholic – The is dead on. |207.138.194.Xxx |2011-02-07 22:Feb:th
    The best line of many good lines:

    “Gone are the days of young people defining themselves as liberal or conservative Catholics. The stakes are much higher today: either you believe in God or you don’t.”

    THIS is exactly what people age 45 and above do not get about the millennial generation. I see it in my teaching (college students) all the time. I teach at a Catholic university where 60 of the students self-identify as Catholic. Yet the driving question in all my gen ed theology classes is…why should I believe any of this at all?

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    Paul Chu – Thank you for thoughtful article! |76.117.182.Xxx |2011-02-07 22:Feb:th
    Father,
    You hit the nail on the head! Thank you for sharing this wisdom. It needs to be heard by everyone, not just vocation directors! :-)

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    Chinh nguyen, SDB |68.126.127.Xxx |2011-02-07 23:Feb:th
    Fr. Ference:

    Thank you for your love and care for vocation to discipleship. Your insights were so enlightening for me. I am strengthened due to your essay. Shalom,

    Chinh, SDB

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    Joe M. |67.132.212.Xxx |2011-02-08 13:Feb:th
    Shepherds don’t make sheep. Sheep make sheep!!

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    Lyda |68.13.176.Xxx |2011-02-08 13:Feb:th
    Father, I agree. You said, “If a youth group is able to offer a young person an opportunity to know Jesus, to know transcendence, intimacy, depth, and a real sense of mystery and being part of a something greater than himself, it will be hard to find a space big enough to gather the young people together.”

    I would say that if our liturgies do not offer these same things, there will be no disciples. When we go to Holy Mass we should experience transcendence, intimacy, depth and a real sense of mystery. Too many churches offer no beauty, no sense of something greater than ourselves. The choice of music is banal. Father acts more like a game-show host than an Alter Christus. The homilies are too often a watered-down reflection of our faith. There is no sense of mystery. If we don’t even care enough to offer Mass well and pay attention to the details, how can we expect people to become disciples? Lex orandi, lex credendi.

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    Carol – Amen, Lyda |67.162.60.Xxx |2011-02-08 14:Feb:th
    Yes, you said it: If we get the Mass right, everything else will fall into place. It’s not about us. Padre Pio said it would be easier for the world to exist without the sun than without the Mass. Jesus Christ rules!

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    Chuck M |206.248.239.Xxx |2011-02-08 14:Feb:th
    Fr. Damian is right about discipleship and seeking holiness. We need to live out our lives in the quest of going into sainthood, regardless of what ever we see going on around us.
    If we live truth they will see.
    If we speak truth they will hear.
    If we strive to live a life of holiness they will come to join.
    If we encourage we will feed those who are seeking that living water that the woman at the well found.

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    Kandoo |65.184.33.Xxx |2011-02-08 18:Feb:th
    I agree. Yet I think there are many that are enemies of the disciple. I just visited a place in Northern Virginia where there are many catholic organizations. I received a generous grant to start developing a Catholic media production company and I was exploring that area for the purpose of locating the company there. I stopped by to say hello to the local priest and hopefully get some guidance from him. The lady at the front desk told me that I had to fill a form, become a member of the parish… then Father would be glad to schedule an appointment. Result: I am locating the company somewhere else. Discipleship grows these days IN SPITE of the Church and not because of her. Mater et Magistra? Let me raise one eyebrow…

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    ArtND76 – Discipleship – In what direction? |66.80.0.Xxx |2011-02-08 23:Feb:th
    Fr. Damian,
    To say the crisis is discipleship is correct, but to what degree and in what dimension? Some people read this and in spite of your clear wording think discipleship is more education, others think it is more radical social justice, still others think it means “better” liturgies (“better” could mean either more innovative or more traditional), some think it means to tithe and so on. All of the preceding are mere symptoms of a basic problem. As you say, address the basic problem and these symptoms take care of themselves.

    I personally like what I have heard from Benedict XVI: he sees current problems as problems of fidelity.

    My life line for faithful teaching has been and is now mainly EWTN. Our pastor gives a good homily as long as he stays out of politics – but because of his occasional political remarks I can’t convince my adult children to attend Mass regularly any more. They don’t want politics, they don’t want the explaining away of miracles, they don’t want new and “innovative” ways of looking at the Gospel, they don’t want a university class lecture on scripture – they want the truth in as pure a form as possible, with any “tailoring” for the congregation in strict obedience to the Holy Spirit. In other words, they need to hear a prayerfully inspired prophetic utterance.

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    Fiona Rammell – Mrs |125.239.30.Xxx |2011-02-09 17:Feb:th
    Thanks so much Father for this inspiration. For so long now I have been grappling with what is missing from our Catholic school and your words sum it up. If the teachers don’t have it then they can’t give it and then what we have is a school with education as a focus not with Christ at the centre. Love and blessings Fiona

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    Richard Ciarrone |99.85.37.Xxx |2011-02-10 18:Feb:th
    Thank you Fr. for a ‘face meltingly’ on-target article.

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    Rachel Benda – Mrs. |68.142.174.Xxx |2011-02-10 22:Feb:th
    Amen and Amen, Father! As disciples we follow Jesus whereever he goes because we love Him. To love Jesus is the heart of discipleship. We love him with all our hearts because he loves us with all his heart. And then, this love enables us to bear the cost of discipleship as the only way to happiness. Love is first. Our lives can only be changed by His love loving us.

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    Bek |110.175.218.Xxx |2011-02-12 05:Feb:th
    Thanks for writing this, Father! I think the most crucial thing you wrote was this:

    Quote:
    If youth ministers and, more specifically, priests take the time to teach their young people how to pray alone, in community, liturgically, before the Blessed Sacrament, with an icon or crucifix, in nature, with Scripture, or with a journal, disciples will emerge. Don’t be fooled; young people desire to learn to pray and to pray well, and they want their leaders to teach them.

    I really think this is the key to more vocations. Having said that, I still think its important to have the vocation initiatives in the meantime. For those few who are already in a strong prayer relationship with the Lord – the invitation needs to be issued for them to be able to accept it!

    I agree with the insights you’ve shared in the article – but maybe a fairer title might have been “Why vocation programs aren’t enough”. They don’t ‘work’ on their own, for sure – but then again, are they really supposed to?

    {Whether we expect them to or not is another issue, of course, and I’m thinking thats what you wrote this to address? I think the situation that you’re addressing is perhaps the fact that some people DO expect this to be enough and are tearing their hair out because it isn’t?}

    Just some thoughts… I don’t know much about these things and this kind of thing is what you do!

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    Frances |205.206.141.Xxx |2011-02-13 21:Feb:th
    Fr Damien – couldn’t agree more. At one stage, our daughters were very engaged in Sunday School at our local parish. A dispute arose because said daughters were unable to attend the ‘essential’ meetings on Tuesday evenings, and were really only able to serve the parish Sunday mornings (with some flexible time to prepare the lessons). Unfortunately, the ‘must attend meetings’ brigade won out; the parish lost two excellent teachers; and our daughters still bear the scars and are skeptical of the church.

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    William – Not just Catholic |66.82.9.Xxx |2011-02-16 09:Feb:th
    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head by focusing on the root of the issue. Interestingly, I spent years in some Protestant churches before returning to Catholicism and I must tell you, your analysis is shared by many Protestant thinkers. They also have discovered that the problem is that of no discipleship and no structured plan to develop such in their churches. Many have come to the same answer: develop disciples first. And among the tools they are using is a return to the Spiritual Disciplines such as liturgical prayer, group prayer, aescetic practices and a form of daily office.

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    Sam Alzheimer |216.128.165.Xxx |2011-02-17 15:Feb:th
    As one who works full-time in vocations promotion, I have a different perspective.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the article’s major premise that the lack of discipleship is a major problem–not just for vocation offices, but for the whole Church.

    It does not follow, however, that discipleship, broadly defined, automatically fixes the shortage of priests. The fact is that there are MANY very devout Catholic men and women who do not have enough information to adequately discern their vocations.

    Marketing most certainly does NOT produce vocations. Posters and web sites don’t raise up new priests. Brochures don’t make monks. Newsletters don’t create nuns.

    But all of it, taken together, can create a positive vocations climate in a diocese. It can make the possibility of a priestly or religious vocation very real for young people.

    So this is a classic case of Both-And. We need BOTH the example of holy priests AND high-profile vocation promotion.

    And here’s the reality: the discipleship problem the article depicts (accurately) is an extremely tough one to begin to fix; in the interim, though, the vocation office needs to do everything it can to inspire young men so we have enough priests for the Church.

    Here are four things vocation offices need to be doing, that, when done correctly, do in fact produce results:

    1. Identify their actual shortage of priests. Most dioceses don’t know with accuracy how many seminarians they need. The situation in most dioceses is far worse than realized.

    2. Reach Catholic families with a pro-vocation message. 60 of recently ordained priests say they met parental resistance when they first mentioned the idea of priesthood. We HAVE to do something to combat this directly.

    3. Find good candidates that live in the diocese and communicate with them. My organization has been incredibly successful at this. There are many, many “good disciples” in dioceses that have not been overtly invited to consider a priestly or religious vocation.

    4. Inspire the good priests we do have to be more vocal in inviting young people. There is a new movement afoot among vocation directors to do just that.

    5. Get candidates to discernment retreats. Yes, discipleship is the underlying foundation on which any vocation is built. Discernment retreats work both to inspire discipleship and to encourage men who feel called to priesthood to finally take a step forward.

    In the end, we should not abandon “vocation programs” no more than we should abandon youth groups or RCIA. Rather, where they don’t work, they should be fixed.

    Yes, over all these efforts, the pursuit of being a disciple of Jesus Christ must remain pre-eminent. But let’s not discourage vocation directors from working hard in the very difficult job of helping young men hear God’s call to priesthood.

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    Bill |199.107.16.Xxx |2011-08-22 11:Aug:nd
    Your post is fantastic, Sam! While Father makes a number of good points, nothing is going to happen without active effort on preaching vocations and inviting people to consider a priestly or religious vocation. Sadly, the thing that must be expressly communicated to modern youth is why they should be chaste.

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    Scott |76.28.133.Xxx |2011-02-19 03:Feb:th
    Great article Fr. Ference!! I followed a link here from the siena.org intentional disciples blog. I love your article and will be sending this on to folks in our parish here in Washington state, the Puget Sound area. I was previously a parishioner at Christ the King in Ann Arbor, Michigan and there are many, many vocations from the parish. There is an amazing focus on discipleship and a Perpetual Adoration Chapel that gets lots of traffic!
    You would love worship there-
    I pray that more and more Catholics meet and fall in love with Jesus. He will lead His own into priestly (and religious) vocations.
    Thank you for your wonderful insight into the needs of our Church and for your service and life as a priest. May the Lord bless you deeply today with His peace and joy!!

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    Anonymous |66.213.114.Xxx |2011-02-20 14:Feb:th
    Although this article and all the comments sound convincing to us creatures, everyone is really still missing the point. There is only one person who fosters vocations, inspires vocations, gives the Grace to a person to follow a vocation, continues to give the Grace for a person to remain in a vocation, and ultimately gives that person the joy of being in a vocation. That person is Our Lord, Jesus Christ. We are fooling ourselves, and are commmiting the sin of pride, if we think we can do anything to change vocations or the number of vocations or who follows a certain vocation. We all should be praising Our Lord for having just the amount of vocations He wants, when and where they are RIGHT NOW. Instead, we keep telling our Creator that He hasn’t done enough for us lately, and that we are going to roll up our shirtsleeves and tell God to move over because we are going to take over from here. Let’s all take a look at how much praising we do of each other when someone writes a nifty article about vocations, or how we talk about how we did something to foster a vocation in a particular person, when in fact we did no such thing. The best example of how little we have to do with the way things are with vocations or in the world is this: The great violin maker makes a beautiful violin, but leaves the violin in the closet and never picks it up to play music, does that violin have the right to boast about how beautiiful it is? How about if the violin maker does pick up his instrument and plays music, does the violin have anything to boast about then? Does the violin have the right to tell the violin maker that he should make more beautiful violins or that he should play more music? We must trust in Our Lord and ask Him for only one thing: To love Him more and more everyday and to give us His Divine Love to love Him with, since that is the only love He deserves.

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    John – re: |208.102.19.Xxx |2011-02-23 23:Feb:rd
    Anonymous wrote:
    Although this article and all the comments sound convincing to us creatures, everyone is really still missing the point. There is only one person who fosters vocations, inspires vocations, gives the Grace to a person to follow a vocation, continues to give the Grace for a person to remain in a vocation, and ultimately gives that person the joy of being in a vocation. That person is Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

    Um, yeah, that’s the point of the article too – discipleship! Also, don’t forget that Christ works through people like us. And we’re not telling God to step aside or telling Him what to do, we’re following His command to make disciples – through Christ and in His name.

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    Anonymous |12.188.99.Xxx |2011-02-24 12:Feb:th
    Your article is excellent. It reminds me of something soon-to-be Blessed John Paul II said in Novo Millenio Ineunte, #29:

    “We shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person, and the assurance which he gives us: I am with you!

    It is not therefore a matter of inventing a “new programme”. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem. This is a programme which does not change with shifts of times and cultures, even though it takes account of time and culture for the sake of true dialogue and effective communication. This programme for all times is our programme for the Third Millennium.

    But it must be translated into pastoral initiatives adapted to the circumstances of each community.”

    May God bless us all as we work at finding truly effective ways of generating disciples and discipleship at the parish level.

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    Anonymous |66.213.124.Xxx |2011-02-28 13:Feb:th
    I think Anonymous meant that we can only make disciples by speaking about the Way, the Truth and the Life, which is Our Lord Jesus Christ; not by having a pizza party and laser tag games or playing Halo.
    Maybe some people are telling Christ to step aside. At my parish the youth minister announced at Mass that it would be “so much fun” to go on the “March for Life”, in order to get more teens to sign up to go to DC, somehow it didn’t seem like the right thing to say. After looking into it further, this minister is actually fostering pride and licentiousness among the youth in our parish. So how is that making disciples? And now what is a concerned parent to do?

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    Danny Muzyka |71.252.254.Xxx |2011-03-12 20:Mar:th
    Thank You Father. I agree with your assessment. There is a Parish in the DFW area that has or have had 13 young men in the Seminary. George Weigel wrote a great article about the vocations coming from Texas A&M. These are extraordinary examples of Discipleship. If there was a way to spread that Good News, great things would come.

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    Mary |63.193.121.Xxx |2011-03-16 21:Mar:th
    Maybe it’s time to get serious after 2000 years about developing a theology of the single vocation. I suspect a lot of serious Catholics who in another time might have become nuns or brothers live lives of exemplary witness in this default and rather despised vocation. Priests my be something else again, but the single state living the baptisimal vows might be the religious life of the future.

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    Max |62.218.27.Xxx |2011-04-13 10:Apr:th
    Dear Fr. Ference,

    I would not disagree with any of your points, but would very strongly point out that it is incomplete by not commenting on a very real, and a very large, problem. The sheer number and percentage of effeminate and homosexual priests.
    I have been told, by priests who were seminarians in the 90s and at what they called ‘Theological Closet’ directly across from Catholic University, that at that time, somewhere around 80 of the students and most if not all of the staff, suffered from homosexual orientation disorder. Sexual activity among students, and between students and staff, was both widespread, and well known. Apparently this problem was widespread in seminaries all across the United States at the time and has been already well reported. I have no idea what the situation is like today. A priest friend said that he has been told that there are far fewer homosexual men and boys there now then when he was there in the mid to late 90s. He has been led to believe that it is now well under 50.

    I know first hand that in Europe this is still a massive problem.

    While the Church has been as clear as it has been repetitive, that those who, though no fault of their own, experience romantic and sexual desire for other men and boys, and have no natural desire for a wife or children, cannot be ordained, this simply is not a directive that is ever seriously followed by Bishops. I even know of a case where a seminarian at Theological College, who was a self-admitted homosexual, was thrown out because he “was not supportive enough of gay issues.”

    Effeminate homosexual priests are simply not going to inspire or encourage men to investigate a priestly or religious vocation.

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    Father Matthew J. Albright |64.254.75.Xxx |2011-05-04 13:May:th
    Authentic discipleship is the key, not only to an increased repsonse to God’s vocations, but to the Church’s mission of evengelization as well. If we want more holy priests and if we desire to save more souls by bringing them to Jesus Christ, then we must be real disciples. Discipleship includes, however, doctrinal orthodoxy, liturgical fidelity and moral courage. It’s the whole package. Preaching, living and worshiping in the truth of Christ, which is the way that leads to life, is in itself an inspirational massage and a living image that inspires souls to come to Jesus. If God is to accomplish anything in us, we must be faithful and loving and joyful disciples. Priests need to appear, act, pray, minister and preach as men who have fallen in love with the Lord and His Church – all of her! Seminarians need to be formed this way and then the faithful will be so formed by their pastors. Practically, it means othodox teaching, rubrical precision and a serious devotion to the prayers of the Church. Essentially, it means a life lived for the Lord – a life that inspires and blossoms in rich fruit.

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    Jay Frantz – Deacon |108.82.128.Xxx |2011-05-22 08:May:nd
    Father Ference,

    You mention that the Permanent Diaconate has its own “issues”.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on those “issues”.

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    Bill |71.236.237.Xxx |2011-06-12 19:Jun:th
    Father Damien – Thank you for confirming what I have observed in my life as a Catholic. When I think of my conversion from an observer to an active member of God’s kingdom I had the good fortune to be guided by priests of the Holy Cross order who nurtured us individually and communally into communities of people who were on fire with the Holy Spirit as they were. That was during the 1970′s. Since then we have seen the fruit of that discipleship mature into a vocation to the priesthood, another to the permanent diaconate, others to parish admisnitrators and various leadership roles. The Church we meet in scripture comes alive again if we submit to discipleship. Thnak you for your insight Father Damien

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    tom neugebauer – Seized by Christ |136.251.166.Xxx |2011-07-12 16:Jul:th
    Fr Damian,

    I do not agree that discipline is the problem at all.
    Being Clristian is not the result of an ethical choice, or a lofty idea (or of an iron will), but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. It is the resonse to the gift of love with which God draws near to us. (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, if you don’t believe me)
    Saints are great not because of their great discipline, but because they are inspired by God’s love. I have seen many examples of this.
    IT Tears my heart everytime I hear you gotta do this, you gotta do that. The only thing people can try to do is get to know Christ better, seek God’s will. The rest is up to Him.

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    Sherry |68.230.138.Xxx |2011-07-13 10:Jul:th
    Thank you Fr. Ference for this insightful article. We recently moved to a parish in Rhode Island. It is a wonderful parish in that there is a sense of reverence in all that is done – from the Priests to the altar servers to the Nuns (in habits) who teach in the school, to those in the pews – young and old. There is a sense of mystery and transcendence and beauty. One of the altar servers just entered the seminary. Vocational models – whether for marriage, religious, clergy, or single life – are there in real life for all to see and learn from. Christ is present throughout the parish. It is a Eucharistic parish of love. To me it is a miracle to have found this beautiful home.

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    SJM |68.230.138.Xxx |2011-07-13 13:Jul:th
    Msgr. Charles Pope has recorded a series of lectures on 5 CDs that are excellent in terms of helping people to understand discipleship. The series is called EXPERIENCING the Good News. It is the best I have ever heard – the talks bring Christ to life in a way that is discipleship at its best.

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    Brennan |216.99.215.Xxx |2011-08-17 04:Aug:th
    It certainly is good for all of us to be concerned about vocations and discipleship. However, one glaring issue which simply cannot be overlooked (and has been mentioned by others) is the liturgy. The reason for a Priest’s existence is to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When the liturgy is banal, as it is in most parishes, and not transcendent, how on earth is a young man going to be attracted to a vocation through it?

    If the main purpose of a Priest that is presented week after week (and which is most likely the only exposure most young men get to a Priest and the Church) is that of a presider over a mediocre, tepid liturgy, what is going to attract young men to the priesthood?

    While other programs and initiatives are good, most seem to have the flavor of something done outside and in addition to the liturgy and most people’s regular contact with the Church. Having a reverent, beautiful liturgy (and yes, I’m thinking of the Gregorian rite with Gregorian chant) can attract men and women to vocations even if the local priest isn’t the walking embodiment of the Cure de Ars.

    God bless.

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    Patrick Cullinan, Jr. – Junior |70.107.115.Xxx |2011-10-11 23:Oct:th
    I guess Fr. Damian has gotten it right (TLDR). I despise those programs with the snappy names and the sleek logos — they’re straight off the corporate conference table. Grace, prayer, sacrifice, holy men and women — these make vocations. What else, I ask you?

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    Albert the less……. |75.149.240.Xxx |2011-11-07 15:Nov:th
    Bravo!

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