WASHINGTON — This year's World Day of Prayer for Vocations points to the important role Catholic home life plays in promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life, said Archbishop Robert Carlson.
The theme for this year — Proposing Vocations in the Local Church - places the responsibility for encouraging vocations on the local Church, said Carlson, who is archbishop of St. Louis.
"We know that the vocation comes out of the home."
In an interview with Catholic News Service, Carlson said the majority of newly ordained priests said they were influenced by the parish in their discernment for the priesthood.
According to results of a survey of members of the 2011 ordination class, 66 per cent of the respondents said it was their parish priest who encouraged them.
Forty-two per cent identified their mothers as having a major influence on their decision.
The annual U.S. survey was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University and was released April 25.
CARA reported that 329 ordinands responded out of a total of 480 who had been identified.
Survey results also showed that the average age of ordinands in the class of 2011 is 34. More than nine in 10, or 94 per cent, reported they had some type of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary, most often in education.
Nine in 10 ordinands reported being encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life.
Of those who reported that they were encouraged to consider the priesthood, two in three (66 per cent) say they were encouraged by a parish priest.
The survey showed that 57 per cent of ordinands in the class of 2011 said they were discouraged from pursuing a vocation by friends and classmates; 52 per cent said they were discouraged by a parent or other family member.
The archbishop said he prays that those discerning the priesthood will have the courage to listen and respond to their vocation.
"We invite them to listen to what they are hearing deep within themselves as to how God might want them to live their life," he said. "And then (we) give them the support so they can have the courage to say yes."