A few weeks ago, I posted a review of Kevin Wells’ book The Priest’s We Need to Save the Church. It is a fantastic, eye-opening read that brought another question to my mind. How do we get them? What can we do to encourage the next generation of Catholics to “take the plunge” and commit themselves to the religious life? There is another book that was recently released that answers those questions and more. In time for Vocation Awareness week, I was able to read Rhonda Gruenewald’s book Hundredfold, A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry.
The first thing that becomes abundantly clear is that Rhonda is not proposing starting yet another committee in your parish. We have enough of those, and frankly, that’s why volunteers get burnt out. Instead, this initiative is missional. It has become evident now with the recent crises in the Church that we need strong priests and religious. The life they are being called to is not an easy one. Certainly, not everyone is called to the religious life; HOWEVER, we are all called to support the religious life and to support those who decide to take this path.
So what is it we can do? Rhonda has laid everything out in this book. Hundredfold developed out of her parish’s experience of setting up a vocation ministry. What you get with this book is experience. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here. Rhonda takes the lessons learned and compiles them into this book.
There are two key pieces of this book that make it invaluable. The first comes in Chapter 3 where readers are given a four-phase implementation plan to begin their own vocation ministry. This section includes Ministry in Action highlights which illustrate how these phases can be successfully implemented. The next is the second part of the book which contains 67 activities to integrate into our new vocation ministry. These include prayer activities, awareness and education activities, youth activities, and affirmation activities. It is important to point out here that by no means are all activities required. Pick and choose what works for you and your parish…but pick something. The activities are relatively simple and involve the entire spectrum of age groups in the parish, making the nurturing of vocations a truly entire parish ministry.
We need to find a way to nurture youth into making the choice to journey into religious life. The future of our Church depends upon this. However, this requires action on our part. We cannot sit idly by, wringing our hands in worry. We must be a mission activated laity, and Rhonda has produced a book that shows us how. The time to act is now. If we answer this call and help bring more into the religious life, we will all be better for it. Take the leap and find out how to start your own parish vocation ministry today.