Building a Culture of vocations

By Father James Wilcox

Directory of Vocations

North Texas Catholic


All Catholics have a semblance of understanding for the importance of priests and religious in the life of the Church. 

They do good; they lead the Church; they help people live lives of holiness. Perhaps you would give additional answers if asked about priests and religious brothers and sisters in your parish. So when we pray for vocations, our prayer might be because we know we need more access to the sacraments, especially the celebration of the Holy Mass and the hearing of confessions, so we ask God to send more priests. We might know that our parishes and schools grow in faith through religious education, so we ask God to send more sisters and brothers to serve as teachers, etc. 

These are good and wholesome prayers; however, in the Diocese of Fort Worth, we are in the midst of a cultural shift in our view, consideration, prayer, and excitement about vocations to the priesthood and religious life. With Pope Francis’ proclamation of 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life, we as a diocese are working to live the call of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations — together we are building a Culture of Vocations.

Through his Incarnation, Jesus Christ unites and sanctifies us. “Therefore in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness….” (Lumen Gentium, 39). This universal call to holiness for all people is the basis for building the Culture of Vocations. 

A Culture of Vocations exists when, in recognizing the universal call to holiness for us all, we assist one another in hearing the voice of Jesus Christ as He guides each on his or her path. This means that recognizing vocations to the priesthood and religious life permeates throughout our lives as part of a normative and prominent process of seeking to do God’s will. 

Vocations are spoken about freely first and foremost in the home, the domestic church, where the seeds of priesthood and religious life are nourished with loving, supportive family members who are excited to have one of their own consider serving the Lord in this notable role. Schools, parishes, ministry groups, youth nights, and diocesan events are so ingrained with anticipating and even expecting vocations to come from their groups that those who step forward are supported in prayer and encouraged in actions. 

The Year of Consecrated Life is a great opportunity for us all to reflect on the men and women in our lives who are dedicated to serving the Lord in priesthood and religious life. Pope Francis calls the consecrated life, “an encounter with Christ.”  How beautiful the hands and feet of these men and women who toil and labor to serve as a bridge for us from the temporal elements of this world to the supernatural experience of Jesus Christ. While the work of the entire Church serves to sanctify the world, those living in consecrated life are examples par excellence of hearing the will of God, trusting in his path, and courageously taking the leap of faith to put his love into action. 

Are you being called to consecrated life? Take this same leap of faith, and have the discussion with a parent, family member, friend, pastor … with someone important in your life. Seek the experience of loving Jesus Christ in a distinctive relationship that could lead to serving the Church as a priest, sister, or brother. 

There are men in the seminary who were so greatly influenced by the Church’s Year for Priests in 2009-2010. United in prayer, may this Year of Consecrated Life throughout 2015 have the same impact on a new group of men and women in our diocese who will joyfully seek the Lord’s will and live it with vigor and strength from Jesus Christ. Our encouragement of young women and men to consecrate themselves to a life of service will deepen our own relationship with Jesus Christ and will move our world toward greater sanctification.


All Catholics have a semblance of understanding for the importance of priests and religious in the life of the Church.