PORTLAND — The World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated by the Catholic Church on Sunday, May 8. The Fourth Sunday of Easter is commonly referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday” for the Gospel reading about the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, just as Jesus did for us.

“In our prayers this weekend, we will ask the Lord, deliberately and especially, to give us more priests,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “Though we need all the vocations of the Church, we have a special need for priests in our diocese. We are helped by our missionary priests, but we need more men to serve together in bringing the message of the Gospel to life throughout Maine.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations has released a new study on ordinations in the Church conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.  A few of the major findings of the report are:

  • On average, responding ordinands first consider the priesthood when they are 16 years old.
  • Around 40 percent of respondents attended a Catholic school on the K-12 and/or college level.
  • Around 90 percent were encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life (most frequently, the parish priest, friend, or another parishioner).

Another interesting statistic was that before entering the seminary, 72 percent of those set for ordination prayed the Rosary.

“Pray the Rosary as a family. That could be a powerful way in which those who are living out the vocation of marriage in family life can work to strengthen the Church by teaching their children of the love of God and the need to serve each other. Praying together in this way brings prayer into daily life and helps our young to see it as important,” said Bishop Deeley. “I am convinced that my vocation to priesthood was nurtured in my home where, at the end of the day, we prayed the Rosary together as a family. They are the first prayers we learn as children. In the praying of them, we come to know the truths they contain: God loves us, he cares for us, he has a plan for us which calls us to serve each other, and he wants us to be with him eternally in heaven.”

Are you a Catholic man, age 18 or over, who is discerning a possible call to the diocesan priesthood or religious life? If so, a special Men’s 18+ Discernment Retreat set for the beautiful Agassiz Village Campgrounds in Poland on May 13-15 is for you. The retreat will gather discerners from across Maine for a weekend of prayer, community, and fun while enjoying the beauty of our Lord’s creation. Any man striving to live out his faith and follow God’s will in his life is encouraged to attend. Fr. Greg Dube, the director of the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Vocations and Seminarians, along with other Maine priests will the lead the weekend retreat, which will include communal and individual prayer, spiritual talks from priests, outdoor activities, and much more.

If you have any questions or are interested in attending, contact Jennifer Bernier in the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Ministerial Services at jennifer.bernier@portlanddiocese.org. The registration deadline is Monday, May 9.

For more information about discerning a vocation, visit this special section on the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Vocations website: www.portlanddiocese.org/vocations/christ-calling-you. The section features a variety of helpful resources including information about the life of a priest in Maine, the path to the priesthood, the history of the presbyterate in Maine, vocation stories, answers to frequently asked questions, and ways to get in touch with the Office of Vocations and Seminarians.