Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 7, 2000
Called By Name
Archdiocese to enlist parishioners in search for future priests, sisters
By GLEN ARGAN
The Edmonton Archdiocese this spring will launch a religious vocations promotion program that other dioceses have successfully used to help end their vocations crisis.
The Called By Name program will encourage parishioners across the archdiocese to submit the names of people they believe would make good priests, sisters and brothers.
Those nominees will be invited to an evening of reflection at which representatives of the archdiocese and various religious orders will be present.
"We hear the will of God through the voices of people," said archdiocesan vocations director Father Sylvain Casavant. "Other people can really be instruments by which the grace of God is revealed and made known to us."
The Toronto Archdiocese launched Called By Name in 1994. That archdiocese is now ordaining five to nine men a year to the diocesan priesthood with even more being ordained for men's religious orders.
Last fall, 17 new seminarians began studying for the Toronto Archdiocese at St. Augustine's Seminary. Altogether, 56 men are preparing for ordination in that archdiocese.
Called By Name is given at least some of the credit for the major turnout there.
Casavant told the WCR Called By Name helps to create an atmosphere more conducive to the fostering of vocations.
"When someone says, 'You might make a good priest,' it makes you stop and think," he said.
The Edmonton program will be focused around Good Shepherd Sunday, May 14.
Priests will be asked to give a homily on April 30, the second Sunday of Easter.
On May 7, a priest or sister will give a talk to the parish on their experience of being called and the pastor will explain the role of the parish community in discernment. Parishioners will then be invited to submit names of possible vocations by writing them on a slip of paper and dropping them into the collection basket.
Those names can continue to be submitted on Good Shepherd Sunday when parishioners will be asked to pray for those whose names have been submitted.
The pastor will perhaps filter out some of those names and he or a parish representative will phone those whose names are being passed on to the archdiocese to let them know their name has been submitted.
Casavant said he doesn't expect all those who receive an invitation to the information night will respond positively. "It's always a free choice," he said.
After the information night, it will be up to the candidates themselves to decide whether to pursue further the possibility of a religious vocation.
He noted that for a day of discernment to be held this month, he sent out 46 personal invitations. Twelve men responded by saying they will attend.
"We're dealing with the will of God, but we're also dealing with people who have to say 'yes' to the will of God."
As well, Archbishop Thomas Collins has written personal letters to 35 young men whose names have been submitted to him as possible priestly vocations.
An invitation may also take some time to bear fruit, Casavant said. "Who's to know they won't come back two or three years later and say, 'My vocation started when I received the letter.'"
Casavant stressed the importance of prayer by parishioners in discerning whose names to submit to Called By Name.
"In the midst of our prayer, we can get a name we would never have thought of," he said. "I would tell the parishioners, 'Don't be afraid of the names you get.'"
As well, last September, he sent a letter to parishes asking them to promote Eucharistic Adoration for the intention of religious vocations. About 25 parishes responded by saying they will take action.