ARCHDIOCESE LAUNCHES ANNUAL VOCATION POSTER CONTEST IN THE MARK OF NATIONAL VOCATIONS AWARENESS WEEK, NOV. 1-7
—Catholic school students will be able to submit their posters for a local contest, and will participate in a virtual event on Nov. 3, where religious women and priests will share their testimonials and offer presentations to raise vocations awareness—
In an effort to foster vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Office of Vocations, together with the Department of Catholic Schools and the Office of Religious Education, is inviting Catholic school students (Grades 5-8) to its first ever annual Vocation Poster Contest and to participate in a virtual event where religious women and priests will share their testimonies, including their discernment process to join religious life.
“We are all members of the Vocations Team —bishops, priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters, and the lay faithful. Please join us in the fourfold tasks for National Vocations Awareness Week,” said Fr. Sam Ward, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Vocations. “PRAY for vocations. ENCOURAGE vocations in your home and parish. INVITE young people to consider a vocation as priest, deacon or religious. SUPPORT those who are actively discerning a vocation and our seminarians and religious already in formation.
“On Nov. 3 the Office of Vocations is hosting a livestream event for over 2,500 students form 40 Catholic School students in 5-8 grades in the Archdiocese, to build up a Culture of Vocations among our young people. Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us. All Holy Men and Women, Angels and Saints of God, pray for us.”
Due to the pandemic, most Catholic school students in the Archdiocese of L.A. are participating in distance learning, so the Department of Catholic Schools and the Office of Religious Education have developed a virtual series of live and pre-recorded talks and presentations to be held on Tuesday, November 3 at 10 a.m. Religious women and priests will help students deepen their faith and discipleship in Christ so they can be open to their vocation call through prayer and discernment.
The live virtual event will also include worship music led by local youth leaders Michael Paul Leon and Renee Paladini, a question and answer session with the presenter, based on questions submitted by the students, and a closing prayer activity.
Guest speakers will include Sister Gabrielle Vogl, a member of the religious Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart for the last 15 years, and Father Matthew Wheeler, a former University of Southern California (USC) student, ordained in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2018.
Sr. Vogl’s religious women congregation’s evangelization ministry includes serving as directors of religious education, as master catechists, and catechists, as well as providing retreats for all ages. Sr. Vogl is currently the Retreat Director of the Heart of Jesus Retreat Center in Santa Ana, serving children, youth and adults. She is the product of 13 years of Catholic School education in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Father Matthew Wheeler grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota and came to Los Angeles to attend college at USC, where he experienced the call to priesthood.
“My vocation to the priesthood grew little by little through personal prayer, love for the Eucharist and service to others,” said Fr. Wheeler, who currently serves as associate pastor at St. Anthony Parish in San Gabriel and as the Regional Vocation Director for the Archdiocese’s San Gabriel Pastoral Region.
Seminary formation enrollment has shown steady in the past decade, according to a June 2020 study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) despite a slight decrease in 2019-2020 compared to 2018-2019. The retention rate for the seminary class of 2020 is expected to be 75 percent, higher than the average 71 percent in the last 12 years.
The National Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for vocations awareness. In 1997, the celebration was moved to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 13, and in 2014 it was moved to the first full week of November in order to engage Catholic schools and colleges more effectively in calling attention to the importance of vocations. The week-long celebration is dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education. During this time, the faithful are asked to pray and support those who are considering and discerning religious life.
@LAVocations. More resources can be found onhttps://www.usccb.org/committees/clergy-consecrated-life-vocations.