CHARLESTON—The Diocese of Charleston has launched a campaign to significantly increase vocations.
The first volley of the effort is a newsletter that was mailed to all parishes Dec. 4 and will come out twice yearly, according to Sam Alzheimer of Vianney Vocations.
Vianney Vocations, from the Diocese of Savannah in Valdosta, Ga., is working with the Office of Vocations in Charleston on their campaign.
Alzheimer said the newsletter is intended for every Catholic in the diocese, and the parishes have been asked to distribute them at Mass as an insert in the church bulletin.
Along with the newsletter “Imagine,” Father Richard D. Harris, vicar for vocations, sent a letter to all priests informing them of the different points of the drive.
One of the highlights is a new prayer for vocations. Father Harris has asked all the priests to offer the prayer at every Mass. They want to raise awareness about the need, and ask God to inspire men and women to join religious life.
“I know this is a bold request, but I truly believe that heartfelt prayer will help to overcome the priest shortage our diocese is facing,” Father Harris wrote in the letter.
Alzheimer said there are currently 12 seminarians in the diocese, and stressed that is not enough to adequately serve 118 parishes.
In order to figure out exactly how many seminarians are needed, the diocese and Vianney are conducting a demographic analysis. By looking at a number of factors, such as the ages of current priests, they can determine how many ordinations and seminarians are needed each year to maintain a proper priest to parishioner ratio. The study should be completed in January, Alzheimer said.
Other elements of the campaign are seminary posters and prayer cards that are being sent to all parishes, schools, campus ministries and Knights of Columbus councils.
The vocations office has also created a call-by-name e-mail campaign that will be sent to religious and various organizations asking for the names of potential priests.
Alzheimer said they will create a database so they can send these men and women information to help them discern a vocation. For example, each person listed will receive a personal invitation to attend the vocations retreat scheduled for Jan. 28-31 in Rock Hill.
Most important is prayer, and they hope to set up a vocations prayer apostolate with homebound Catholics.
“We want to ask the people in the Diocese of Charleston to pray for new priests. That’s probably the No. 1 thing we want to do,” Alzheimer said.