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Bishops’ Conference Sends Out Monstrance In Adoration for Vocations Program

BY JOSEPH PRONECHEN

Register Correspondent

January 30-February 5, 2005 Issue | Posted 1/31/05 at 10:00 AM

 

WASHINGTON — Eucharistic adoration for vocations is growing and spreading rapidly in this Year of the Eucharist.

After the Vatican learned about this particular effort, promoted in some dioceses in the United States, the Congregation for Catholic Education launched a similar worldwide initiative in January. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops immediately answered the Vatican’s call to spread adoration for vocations during the Year of the Eucharist.

To launch the U.S.-Canadian role in the Vatican’s year-long effort, the bishops’ conference held a day of Eucharistic adoration for vocations Jan. 12 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. It was the first time a special monstrance blessed by Pope John Paul II was used.

The monstrance was one of six the Pope blessed during his Nov. 24 general audience. They are designated for Eucharistic adoration for vocations for each major continent or geographical area around the world.

On Jan. 3, Father Edward Burns, executive director of the bishops’ Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation, received the monstrance from Daniel Gonzales, national director of the website Vocation.com, and Legion of Christ Father Anthony Bannon, who was until recently North American territorial director of his religious order.

“We are so excited about this,” Father Burns said. “We are grateful for this opportunity to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send workers into the harvest.”

From the shrine, the monstrance went to Chicago for adoration for vocations during the Serra International conference, held Jan. 14-16. Father Burns’ office will schedule the travels of the monstrance to cathedrals, parishes and college campuses. Requests should be made through the bishop’s office in each diocese.

“We are still in the process of contacting all the dioceses in North America,” Father Burns said. In fact, the Jan. 12 kickoff, during the middle of Vocation Awareness Week, came before the month the Vatican designated — February — as America’s official month of responsibility for this adoration.

The Serra USA Council and Serra International will help move the monstrance throughout the country. Father Burns said his office will post the schedule on the Internet at www.Vocation.com.

“Our hope is, through this collaborative effort of the USCCB, Adoration for Vocations, Vocations.com and Serra International, we might combine our resources and really promote this Vatican project so that it may touch the lives of many, many young men and women who may be called to the priesthood or consecrated life,” Gonzales said.

“We hope this is just the beginning of many other projects we can collaborate on with the USCCB,” he said.

Father Brian Christensen, vocations director for the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D., attended the opening event at the national shrine and hopes the monstrance will come to the Diocese of Rapid City.

“When you know this blessed monstrance came from the Holy Father and this connection with the universal Church, you won’t be able to ignore that in prayer,” he said.

Father Christensen added, “The connection between the Eucharist and vocations is so apparent and so clear that we decided to capitalize on the connection in promoting prayer before the Blessed Sacrament specifically for vocations.”

At the start of the Year of the Eucharist, the diocese initiated the Parish Pledge of Prayer for Vocations, asking each parish to dedicate one hour a week in prayer for vocations before the Blessed Sacrament.

As an aside, he said that during Bishop Blase Cupich’s last ad limina visit to Rome, the Holy Father handed him rosaries for each of the diocese’s seven seminarians to give to their mothers. “The Holy Father is thinking about us, the United States, and vocations in the U.S. He has a heart for that.”

That includes blessing many monstrances for adoration for vocations. For the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., assistant vocation director Father Joseph Marcello brought one to the same November general audience to be blessed by John Paul. This monstrance is used exclusively in the diocese’s new adoration for vocations program, which closely mirrors the new Vatican effort.

“As the monstrance travels from parish to parish,” Father Marcello said, “many parishioners around the diocese have commented that they feel, on some level, a personal connection with the Holy Father and are able to respond personally to his invitation to deepen their appreciation for the gift of the Eucharist this year, while asking the Lord to send priestly vocations to our diocese.”

‘Many Graces’

On the national level, Father Burns said he’s seen that young people hunger for opportunities to encounter the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

“I see many graces coming from this entire event,” he said. “As the Holy Father has said in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church), it’s before the Eucharist that the Lord speaks to the hearts, in particular to the hearts of those who are discerning his will. I think that these moments of Eucharistic adoration will have a profound effect in helping to create a vocation culture within our Church. That’s why we look to this as a wonderful moment in time and a wonderful opportunity.”

Kathleen Reilly of St. Matthias Church in East Lyme, Conn., knows full well the importance of Eucharistic adoration for vocations and the results possible.

She looks back eight years to the day fellow parishioner David Craig, now the national director of Adoration for Vocations (davecraig@lycos.com), was organizing the first Eucharistic adoration at their parish to pray on first Fridays for vocations.

“Dave said, ‘I don’t know why, but I know you should be involved in this in some way,’” Reilly recalled. She began polishing the monstrance and getting flowers ready.

“At the time, my son Kevin was not quite settled in his life,” Reilly said. “I was praying for him. Not that he would go into the priesthood — quite frankly, that hadn’t dawned on me. I was praying for him that God would show him where he should be in his life.”

But shortly after, Kevin called from Washington to say he was attending daily Mass and had spoken with priests who thought he might have a vocation.

“I felt that God, through prayer, showed him where he was to be,” Reilly said. “This was not something anybody would have figured for Kevin. He was probably as surprised as anyone.”

Since then, he’s become Father Kevin Reilly in the Diocese of Norwich. His mother continues signing up people for Eucharistic adoration and attending adoration herself.

She also points out that another woman in the parish who comes to daily Mass and prays for vocations now has a son studying in a Massachusetts monastery. Both vocations are the first in their parish history.

“You know what we mothers think?” Reilly said. “We think it’s from Eucharistic adoration. We definitely feel it. I just wish more people could come to adoration.

“That’s the way God is going to answer our prayers,” Reilly said, “praying before the monstrance.”

Joseph Pronechen writes

from Trumbull, Connecticut.