November’s weeklong celebration of vocations will highlight the beauty of a call to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life – a call that transcends even global pandemics.

National Vocation Awareness Week will take place Nov. 1-7 in the Catholic Church across the country.

Marked by promotion of vocations through prayerful support of those in discernment, the annual event is an opportunity for prayer and communicating the necessity of vocations in the Church. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the normal vehicles of large celebrations have had to be reimagined.

“We’re limited as to what we can do, since we can’t have our diocesan gathering,” said Father Jason Parzynski, diocesan director of vocations. “So we’ve sent materials to all of our diocesan priests and parishes to help bring vocations to people’s attention.”

Those materials include special prayers of intercession added to Masses, a prayer for vocations to post on parish websites and to have available in parish Eucharistic Adoration chapels, and an invitation for people to discern or to recommend to their parish priest young people who they think might have a call to the priesthood or religious life.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, said that today’s times provide an opportunity for genuine discernment fully rooted and dependent upon Christ.

“These unusual and difficult times have brought much uncertainty and fear into our lives, but we know in faith that Christ’s powerful hand extends over all of us in mercy,” he said. “I invite those discerning a vocation to use this time to prayerfully renew your love for Christ and recognize your complete dependence upon him who loves and calls you uniquely.”

Father Parzynski noted that during a discussion with his vocation team, an important point was made.

“The priesthood or religious life is not marketed – God calls the person to that life,” he emphasized. “My role is to help assist other priests of the Diocese to provide opportunities to communicate with those who are interested and to help with discernment.” 

A recent annual study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate indicated steady enrollment in seminary formation, with college seminary retention higher than its 12-year average.

Another study CARA conducted with the National Religious Vocation Conference indicates that vocations to religious life are continuing to flourish as well; the number of men and women religious in initial formation is not significantly different from that reported in 2009.