By NANCY SCHWERIN
BLUFFTON — If seminarians are feeling embraced, it’s probably from the never-ending prayers pouring out of St. Gregory the Great Church.
For more than two years, a vocations committee at St. Gregory’s has organized support for diocesan seminarians. Parishioners and families lend their time and resources, praying, writing, sending gifts and generally encouraging men through their rigorous formation process.
Through a variety of programs, the vocations committee members take to task their role in the future of the church and encourage parishioners to do the same.
Each month, members sign up for a three-hour eucharistic adoration on Friday after Mass.
The 10-member committee takes part in the “Adopt a Seminarian” program, in which each member adopts one or more seminarians. There are currently 13 men in the seminary for the Diocese of Charleston. The 10 committee members send cards on birthdays and holidays, pray for their seminarian, and often send monetary gifts for support.
Frank Veihmeyer, committee chairman, said the response from seminarians has been excellent. They continually express their gratitude, especially when they meet parishioners, who often attend the ordinations.
Father H. Gregory West, pastor, recently authorized two collections in October which raised $1,735. The money will be divided evenly and sent to seminarians on their birthdays.
In the Chalice Program, the whole St. Gregory’s congregation gets involved. Families sign up to bring one of two chalices home for a week. During that time, the family places the chalice on the dinner table and each day, at least at one meal, they say the prayer for vocations that is attached to the chalice.
Veihmeyer said the first six months of 2001 are already booked up with families wanting to participate in the Chalice Program.
Parishioners can also get involved through the 31 Club. They are asked to go to one extra Mass a month and offer it up for vocations.
The committee is working to encourage vocations within the parish. Veihmeyer said, the committee hopes to organize a once-a-year picnic for altar servers.
“We hope to encourage their interest in being closer to God at the altar,” said the chairman.
An ongoing goal for the successful vocations committee is to seek potential seminarians from the area.
This year, the parish recruited 18 Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults candidates by putting a sign on the main highway by the church which simply invited people interested in becoming Catholic to a meeting. Veihmeyer hopes a similar banner calling anyone who is considering a priestly or religious vocation to a meeting will produce a good turnout.
If all that’s not enough, parishioners can pray for vocations during the stations of the cross after the 8:30 Mass on Thursday.