By Dave Jolivet
FALL RIVER, Mass. — When he was pastor of Holy Family Parish in East Taunton, leading his parishioners into the new millennium, Father Jay T. Maddock’s parish Vocation Committee initiated a program to allow families to become more involved in fostering and praying for vocations: the Vocation Prayer Cross Ministry.
The purpose of the cross was to have a family welcome the cross into their home for one week, reminding them to pray daily, as a family, for an increase in all vocations; the priesthood, religious life, Marriage, and single life.
“We put together a book of prayers for vocations and then invited families to sign up to take the vocation prayer cross and prayer book home for one week (one family per week) with the commitment to offer the prayers each evening for vocations,” Father Maddock told The Anchor. “They then bring the cross and prayer booklet back with them to Mass the following week and the next family takes it home.”
At his current parish, Holy Name in Fall River, the Vocation Committee is initiating the same program, taking as its start date the beginning of National Vocations Awareness Week.
The cross, which stands about three-feet-tall, has “Pray ... For,” running horizontally, and “Vocations,” running along the vertical plank.
“In this effort we are trying to encourage parishioners to pray for a greater awareness of the Christian vocations of Matrimony, Holy Orders and consecrated religious life,” Father Maddock continued. “We must pray that more families talk about and pray for strength that young people especially (and older ones depending on their circumstances) reflect on what God is asking of them.
“We have far fewer priests and religious in our country because we have far fewer Catholic people receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony and building strong Catholic families where calls to Holy Orders and consecrated religious life can be discerned and chosen. This Vocation Prayer Cross effort is directed toward all the Christian vocations. The more people we have receiving these Sacraments the better we are able, as Church, to bring the Good News of Christ to more and more people.”
Donna Costa is the chairperson of the Holy Name Vocations Committee. She told The Anchor, that when the prayer cross was utilized at Holy Family in East Taunton, “it was very fruitful there. When it was presented to the Holy Name Parish Vocation Committee we thought it was a wonderful idea.
“I believe it is important for families to be involved in praying for vocations because families are the backbone, if you will, of a society and if you do things together as a family it strengthens the family unit and provides a welcoming environment for children to be able to dialogue with parents about what they might want to do with their lives, and that may include priesthood, religious life and Marriage.”
“We’ve been planning this since last spring, trying to decide when to start it and compiling the prayers for the book,” said Adam Morin, a member of the Holy Name Vocations Committee.
He told The Anchor the committee decided on starting it on Vocations Sunday, November 5. “My family and I are blessed to be the first to take it home. My wife, Sarah and I have six children, and we have always prayed with them for vocations as well as for our priests, deacons, and religious. We try to instill in them an understanding of how crucial they are and how important is the work they do.
“We also make it a point to invite priests that we know to our family functions, or just for a quick meal. We also have a close friend who is a religious Sister and a cousin who is a priest in the Diocese of Providence. It’s important for children to be around them and have a relationship outside of just Sunday Mass.”
Morin said that the work the Vocations Committee has done so far has been well-received by the Holy Name parishioners. “We’ve had good reaction to what the committee has done thus far, such as our Holy Hour last July, so we’re hoping that this will further generate awareness,” he added.
Costa said that families who bring home the prayer cross aren’t only doing a service for Christ and His Church, but for themselves as well. “The other benefit as parishioners take home the vocation prayer cross for the week is that it also strengthens one’s own prayer life with God and doing good toward one’s neighbor. So it’s a blessing all the way around for those whom are prayed for and for those who are doing the praying.”
“This Vocation Prayer Cross effort is directed toward all the Christian Vocations,” said Father Maddock. “The more people we have receiving these Sacraments the better we are able as Church to bring the Good News of Christ to more and more people.”
An appeal for families to become involved in the ministry appears in the weekly parish bulletin: “Each week we are asking one family (of any size) to volunteer to take home the Vocation Prayer Cross and the prayer booklet and, as a family, to commit to saying prayers each night that week for people to be able to hear and respond to the vocation God is asking them to live. We all have a responsibility to pray for vocations if we want strong families, more priests and religious women and men and a stronger, more vibrant Church. Each must do his or her part in this effort.”