Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 11, 2002
Society prays for more priests
Local group credited with more young people showing interest in religious life
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
For more than a year now, several hundred Catholics in the Edmonton Archdiocese have been regularly praying for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
They are members of the St. Therese Vocations Society, a loosely organized society of adult men and women scattered throughout the archdiocese.
Established 18 months ago by the archdiocesan Vocations Office, the society currently has 300 members, each of whom has made an individual commitment to pray daily for an increase in vocations.
Thanks to their prayers, dozens of young people are now considering becoming priests and nuns, says Father Stephen Hero, the archdiocesan vocations' director and coordinator of the vocations society.
"I'm in dialogue with a lot of young men," he said, adding that a number of young women have also approached his office to inquire about religious life.
Hero would not say how many men he is talking with, but showed a long list and said Archbishop Thomas Collins had sent letters to at least 20 young people last year who had expressed interest in a vocation, or are seen by others as being good priesthood candidates.
Hero also credits prayer for the growth of St. Joseph's Seminary, which currently has seven seminarians and three deacons studying for the Edmonton Archdiocese from among a total of 43. He expects at least four or five more young men to enroll in the seminary next fall.
"I'm very hopeful that so many young people are excited about their faith," Hero said. "They are asking 'How can I serve God.'" Society members make a five-fold pledge when they join, including a pledge to offer a daily prayer for an increase in vocations and a daily prayer for the priests serving in the archdiocese.
They also pledge to make a holy hour each week for the seminarians currently studying for the priesthood, to attend Mass once a month for these same intentions and to share in any sufferings they might endure.
Members sign a pledge card with their name and address on it and the Vocations Office contacts them.
Since the society does not hold meetings, members are kept abreast of vocations-related developments through a quarterly newsletter from the Vocations Office.
Members don't make a time commitment with the society and can pray for as long as they want, Hero said.
The society is named after St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, a saint famous for doing daily little things for the grace of God. In her book, the Story of a Soul, St. Therese says Christians must be willing to love Jesus in all they do, especially in the small things they do each day. "Jesus does not demand great action from us, but simple surrender and gratitude," she wrote. The relics of St. Therese visited Edmonton last fall.
Encouraged by the success of the society, the Vocations Office is now starting a Junior St. Therese Vocations Society which will be geared primarily toward children preparing for their First Communion, Hero said.
Membership requirements are less than for adults and include a simple pledge to say a simple prayer each day for an increase in vocations and a daily prayer for the priests and nuns working in the archdiocese.