This Sunday, April 25, the diocese recognizes World Day of Prayer for Vocations, an effort to publicly fulfill the Lord's instruction to "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest" (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2).
During the recent Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate, Father Jeffrey Bowker, director of Seminarian Vocations, reminded the faithful to please pray for seminarians by name, an exercise that is encouraged in many parishes throughout the diocese by posters and prayer cards featuring Diocese of Raleigh seminarians currently in formation.
At St. Mary Magdalene School in Apex, educators and students have taken extra steps to focus attention on seminarians, those who are studying to be priests, and create broader awareness for all religious vocations. Each day during morning prayers the community takes part in an event they named “Seminarian of the Week.”
The community prays for one certain seminarian, and students follow that up with a letter to the seminarian, letting them know they are praying for them that week.
The school also started an “Adopt a Seminarian” program during Catholic Schools Week and carried it forward for the rest of the school year. Each classroom was assigned a seminarian. Their picture and biography are displayed in the classroom, and during Catholic Schools week students sent “their” seminarian a care package with goodies, cards and other fun things. For Lent, the students sent additional cards and letters.
"For seminarians, receiving mail is a touch of home. It's a little reminder of the people in North Carolina who are praying for you. When you're in Pennsylvania, Florida, Louisiana or D.C. at seminary and something arrives from home, that's encouragement and a material reminder of the people in your diocese," said Father Jim Magee, promoter of vocations for the Diocese of Raleigh.
The St. Mary Magdalene seminarian support and outreach has been well received, and reciprocated. Recently, current Diocese of Raleigh seminarian Drew Navarro participated in a Zoom meeting with the class that adopted him and led them in prayer to start their day.
“With the shortage of priests, we are trying to bring awareness to the vocation these men have taken," said John Mihalyo, principal of St. Mary Magdalene School. "When you think about it, the seminarian your classroom has adopted might be the man who marries you or baptizes one of your children in the future when these kids grow up. I hope it also shows these future priests that our Catholic schools are alive and strong in the Diocese of Raleigh!"
The personal connection forged during these activities can have a lasting impact. "I clearly remember the students from St. Raphael Preschool’s “panda” class praying for me when I was a seminarian," said Father Magee. "In fact, I still pray for them today even though that was many years ago.”
Learn more about Vocations in the Diocese of Raleigh.
Prayer for Vocations
FATHER, in your plans for our salvation
You provide shepherds for your people.
Fill your Church with the spirit of courage and love.
Give the Church more priests,
Worthy ministers for your altars
And ardent but gentle servants of the gospel.
Grant also to us an increase
In vocations to religious life.
May more of your people respond
To your call in a spirit of generosity.
May they serve your people in love
By following in the footsteps of Christ your Son
And provide by their way of life
A convincing sign of your kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Mary Mother of the Church, pray for us.