Over the weekend, 530 Serra Club members from 12 different countries gathered at their annual international conference in Omaha, Neb. “No one offers more support and encouragement for vocations than Serra,” said the host, Omaha Archbishop George Lucas.
Among the attendees was New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Archbishop Dolan told Serrans that vocations can be promoted by the laity in four distinct ways.
The first, said Archbishop Dolan, is by emphasizing the vocation of marriage and family. Citing data from a Pew Research Center study, Archbishop Dolan stated that only about 50% of Catholic young people are approaching the sacrament of marriage.
“Taking care of the first crisis will take care of the second,” said Archbishop Dolan. “Vocations to the priesthood and religious life come from lifelong, life-giving faithful marriages.”
Secondly, Archbishop Dolan spoke of re-creating a culture of vocations.
“There were no good old days in the Church,” said Archbishop Dolan. “Every era in Church history has its horrors and difficulties.”
“We need to recapture the climate/tenor/tone/ambiance in the Church where a boy or man isn’t afraid to publicly say, ‘I want to be a priest,’ and where his family, relatives, neighbors, parish, priest, sisters, teachers and even non-Catholics are robustly supportive.”
Thirdly, Archbishop Dolan said that the laity need to not be afraid to ask their priests to help them be holy.
“For a faithful Catholic, a priest is essential for growth in holiness because he gives us the sacraments, and without the sacraments we can’t be holy,” said Archbishop Dolan. “When you ask us to help you be holy, we realize that we must be holy, and you remind us that there is something unique in the Church that only a priest can do.”
Finally, Archbishop Dolan said that priests must be reminded that they are here to help the laity get to heaven.
“A priest is an icon of the beyond, the eternal, the transcendent,” said Archbishop Dolan. “Heaven gives us hope and meaning in life.”