Life Teen’s fundraising slogan this year is “Vocations Start Here.” They are rightly proud that in a 2010 study 30% of seminarians said Life Teen helped them discern and 49% had attended some Life Teen event.
At the same time, St Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M (Aggie Catholics) claims that an average of 8 students has entered priestly or religious formation each year in the last 12 years.
Is that any surprise? The number one youth ministry program and the number one campus ministry are producing vocations.
Then you look at extraordinary form masses. They account for more than their fair share of vocations. The FSSP seminary dedicated to this ministry is full.
Even look at my own community, the Legion of Christ. We have gone through a lot the last few years and some have left the community. However, if you compare those entering and those being ordained to the number of priests we have, we are still growing.
Again, I doubt either of these surprise you.
The surprise is those who talk for hours about vocations, create nice flyers, yet have few vocations. I am not going to give my life for a cool sign. I might give it for my Catholic friends and my best friend, Jesus
A vocation doesn’t just fall from the sky. They come from people living an authentic Catholic faith. When a large group of young people starts living an authentic Catholic faith, some of them will sense the call.
“It is much more important to prepare yourself for your vocation than to discern it. God can give you in a flash the awareness you need in order to see it. But what happens then? Will that knowledge remain sterile?” (Fr Anthony Bannon, LC, Peter on the Shore: vocation in Scripture and real life) That can be applied as much institutionally to our vocation programs as to the individual discerning.
This is also what I have experienced in ministry. The vocations I saw all came from groups of Catholics living their faith authentically.
The growth in vocations will follow the growth in youth ministry. The focus of vocational ministry should be youth ministry.