By Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S.

Many of our parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati regularly pray the vocations prayer written by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr. Other parishes have a group that regularly prays the rosary for “an increase in vocations.” Some individuals have committed to praying every day for vocations. These are all good things, and I am glad that people are doing them, but I want to challenge everyone to do more.

Sometimes our prayers for vocations are abstract. We often pray for vocations as if they will come to us from on high. I encourage you to begin praying for vocations in a way that is more specific and concrete.

First, I would encourage you to pray more boldly. Instead of simply asking for “an increase in vocations,” pray that the Lord will call young men and women from your parish or your family to life as a priest, brother or sister. Vocations come from somewhere, and the answer is from our families. The other way to get bold and specific is to pray for vocations to our Community and our sister communities.

You can also pray for individuals and for their vocation. I have a running list of young men and women I pray for as they continue to discern their vocation. Generally for this list, I am simply praying for them and their vocation (whatever it may be). If you want to pray for an individual and that God might call him to the priesthood or to be a Precious Blood brother, go for it. Just remember that it’s ultimately up to God.

I recently got to cross a name off of my list as he and his new bride celebrated their wedding last month. There is great joy in that clarity and the ability to finally say yes to something for the rest of your life. He would have made a great priest, but he’ll be a great husband and father. Some of the people on the list are called to a consecrated life, and others are called to marriage, but all of them are still discerning, and so I pray for them and their vocation.

Alternatively, you could choose to pray for one individual at a time. If your list is long you could pray for them for a day or a week at a time. With a shorter list you can pray for the person for the whole month. Don’t be shy about letting people know that you are praying for them and their vocation. Even an anonymous note letting them know you are praying for their vocation can be a nice surprise.

Another approach is to pray for specific vocations. I have a friend who has divided up her week, and prays for a different vocation each day. So on the day she prays for sisters, she offers prayers throughout the day for young women discerning religious life, and at another moment she may pray for a particular community of sisters. This allows her to focus her prayers in a way that feels concrete and specific.

An often-missed piece of praying for vocations is praying for strength and perseverance for those who have already said yes. The men and women in formation need the support of our prayers to help them along. Also in need of your prayers are all of us who live out our consecrated life in fulltime ministry. Supportively hold specific priests, brothers and sisters in prayer that they may be strengthened in their life and ministry. This too is a way to pray for vocations.

I hope that this article has given you some ideas for how you might up your game when it comes to praying for vocations. I firmly believe that the vocations are out there, we just need to help them flower.