National Vocations Awareness Week (NVAW) is celebrated the first full week of November, although it was originally designated in 1976 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to be celebrated on the 28th Sunday of the year. An annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States, NVAW will be celebrated this year November 3-9.
A personal call from God, a vocation is offered freely and must be accepted freely. It is a lifelong commitment to something that God wants us to do, as well as a call to be the unique person that He made us to be. Specifically, NVAW is dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, and has five goals:
- Pray for vocations to priesthood and religious life;
- Educate Catholic children about the various vocations;
- Aid parents in teaching their children to remain open to God’s call;
- Inspire young adults to consider a vocation to priesthood or religious life; and
- Highlight examples of religious men and women.
While the emphasis of NVAW is promoting vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, the Catholic Church recognizes four main vocations to which Catholics are called:
- Holy Matrimony – Most people are called to marriage—to wholeheartedly love their spouses and to joyfully welcome children. The purpose of marriage is for a man and woman to help each other get to heaven, and to teach their children to do the same. Like any vocation, marriage must be discerned, not assumed.
- Consecrated Life – Both men and women can join religious orders such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines, etc. The life and work of religious orders varies greatly—some are primarily devoted to prayer; others work actively in schools, hospitals, orphanages, etc. Common to all religious orders are the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
- Priesthood – Priests bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus through preaching and the sacraments. Priests are very active as they counsel people, teach classes, prepare homilies, administer parishes, and much more.
- Single life – Some people serve God as single people, without marrying or making special vows. While not a “vocation” in a strict theological sense, single people contribute greatly to the good of the human family, and many serve God and their neighbor in exemplary fashion.
Through vocations God calls us to build up society in a manner that reflects His love, and during NVAW, we offer a special prayer for those considering a vocation of priesthood or consecrated life.
Prayer for Vocations
God our Father, You made each of us
to use our gifts in the Body of Christ.
We ask that You inspire
young people whom you call to
priesthood and consecrated life
to courageously follow Your will.
Send workers into Your great harvest
so that the Gospel is preached,
the poor are served with love,
the suffering are comforted,
and Your people are strengthened
by the sacraments.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.