HARTFORD – If you agree that the Archdiocese of Hartford needs more parish priests and you believe in the power of prayer, you’re invited to join the St. John Vianney Vocation Prayer Society, a new apostolate for “vocation advocates” that is being formed by the Office of Vocations.
The new apostolate will replace the former Serra Club, which has declined in membership in recent years. The Office of Vocations is inviting the remaining Serra members to join a new prayer group along with other new members who might bring fresh energy and new ideas around new events, said Father Jeffrey A. Gubbiotti, vocation director.
The prayer group is being named for St. John Vianney, who is known as the patron saint of parish priests. The members will be asked to pray for diocesan priests and deacons, married couples and religious brothers and sisters.
“We chose the name ‘St. John Vianney’ because he is the patron saint for all vocations, but our particular focus is for Hartford priests,” Father Gubbiotti said.
Why the emphasis on prayer when it comes to vocations?
“It’s all about prayer. It’s not just pious prattle,” Father Gubbiotti said. “A vocation is a mystery between the person and God. It’s not something that can be recruited. We need to pray to the master of the vineyard to increase the harvest.”
Members of the new society will commit to pray daily for vocations in any number of ways, including by praying the rosary or a decade of the rosary, specific vocation prayers and through their Mass intentions.
“We need them to pray in whatever way they are able to. Even someone who is homebound can participate,” Father Gubbiotti said. “There will be no dues, no meetings. What they can do is the real work at hand.”
Members will also be asked to attend at least one holy hour for vocations per year to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Holy Hours will be held around the archdiocese, and one is currently being planned for sometime in May, Father Gubbiotti said.
Members will also be invited to ordination events and days of recollection, which will allow them to meet, get to know and pray with the archdiocese’s seminarians. “It’s a little opportunity to feed each other in prayer,” he explained.
Just as important, members will also be asked to encourage new vocations by inviting individuals to consider the priesthood or religious life.
“If they see someone called to a vocation, they should offer that person an invitation,” Father Gubbiotti said. “Studies show individuals need at least three people to invite them before they explore the question” of whether or not they have a vocation.
An invitation to a vocation, “a simple little encouragement,” can come from anyone, Father Gubbiotti said. “It’s a personal invitation. That’s the key.”
What should members look for in future priests? “If they see any character traits they’d like to see in their own priest – someone who is kind, a good listener or good with kids – just put it on the radar screen for people,” he advised.
For prayer group members interested in taking a more active role, the Office of Vocations has created a sub-apostolate called the St. Thérèse Support Circle. Members of this segment will be asked to volunteer their time and talent to support vocation-related events.
Members can sign on to stuff envelopes, do data entry, make phone calls, usher at ordinations, read at holy hours or bake for receptions.
The archdiocese currently has 22 men in seven different seminaries, Father Gubbiotti said, and three candidates in the application process.
Several seminarians have answered the call to the priesthood after years spent in a secular career. According to Father Gubbiotti, the current group includes an attorney, a member of the Coast Guard, a scientist, a sportswriter, a real estate agent and a construction worker.
To join the St. John Vianney Vocation Prayer Society, email your name and contact information, as well as your parish name and location, to email@example.com or call 860-761-7457. Information is also online at hartfordpriest.com.