| By Bishop Robert D. Gruss

Vocations ministry is Kingdom work

More than 40 years ago, a parishioner extended to me a personal invitation to attend a Bible study that was beginning in the parish. I initially said that I was not interested – “It wasn’t my thing.” The parishioner invited me “to think and pray” about it, and to feel free just to show up if I were to change my mind. This single invitation changed the whole course of my life, as I somehow found myself attending on the first night. It is what I call a “Kingdom” invitation. The Kingdom is the place where the Lord changes one’s life so that we might live more fully for him. This simple invitation to “think and pray” about that Bible study is what set me on the road to priesthood.

When was the last time you spoke to a young man who you think has the qualities to make a good priest and asked him to “think and pray” about the priesthood? In other words, extended your own “Kingdom” invitation? Vocations ministry is “Kingdom” work.

Many people have heard me say, “There are no shortages of vocations to the priesthood in this diocese.”  How can this be?

There are many vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life in the Diocese of Saginaw. The Lord has not stopped calling men and women to serve him in a priestly or religious vocation. The Lord never stops calling. The only shortage is that of vocational discernment. Too many young men and women are not discerning and responding to the Lord’s call, partially because they are not being personally invited to consider this type of vocation.

It is also more complicated than merely young people not seeking what the Lord wants for their vocation. One of the great challenges (which also means opportunities) is that we have not created a culture or an environment that encourages young people to discern God’s call in their lives. It has not been a priority – only another ministry to create, when we get around to it. It is not because priests do not desire more vocations in our diocese. It is simply that priests are tired because they are busier now than ever, many with multiple parishes, some having additional duties in the Chancery as well.

Father Andy LaFramboise, our diocesan vocations director, recently invited Rhonda Gruenewald, founder of Vocation Ministry (vocationministry.com), to come to the Diocese to provide assistance and training for priests and laypeople in establishing vocation ministry in our parishes. Twelve years after her conversion to the Catholic faith, she recognized God's call to establish a vocation ministry in her own parish. The nonprofit Vocation Ministry grew out of that work in her local parish. She then provided a book entitled Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry, her how-to manual and resources book with a wealth of wonderful ideas for bringing a culture of vocations to life in the midst of other parish ministries. She has assisted many dioceses across the country, and much fruit is being borne.

Many laypeople are doing incredible work in their parishes in catechesis and evangelization, but the area of vocations in most parishes is greatly lacking. In the promotion of vocations, laypeople must step forward to establish and maintain that vital culture of vocations in their local parishes, which will unfailingly produce our future priests and religious.

Friends, now it is your opportunity to become part of a vocation ministry in your local parish. If implemented prayerfully and strategically, this will not only change your parish, but greatly impact the way in which young people look at their lives in the context of the Lord’s call to the Kingdom.

A representative from Vocation Ministry also recently provided a training session for laypeople who desire to bring this ministry to their parishes. More than 40 laypeople heard firsthand how to go about this important vocation work in their parishes.

I believe vocation ministry is the most critical need in our Diocese right now. We need the help of all of you. Vocation work is the ministry of all the baptized. I am asking that you take your role in the work of vocations seriously. Do so by becoming a part of this ministry that will be created in your parish or by helping to create this ministry in your parish. Rhonda Gruenewald’s Vocation Ministry provides all the resources to be successful, knowing that every parish is different.

Families and local parish communities are the seedbeds for priestly and religious vocations. They are in your families and parish communities. We must all play our role in this work of the Church.

What can you do right now? Make praying for vocations a priority in your life, personally and communally.  Join me for the Holy Hours for Vocations in a parish near you or have a regular Holy Hour for Vocations in your own parish. Include prayers for vocations in your weekly liturgies. See how you can become involved in creating a vocation ministry in your parish. Share a “Kingdom” invitation – to think and pray – to young men whom you believe have the qualities to be a good priest.

There is much at stake! But we live in hopeful expectation that what we ask for in faith, the Lord will provide in love. Together, may all of us in the Diocese of Saginaw joyfully accept the grace and responsibility of playing our part in this important Kingdom work.


Novena to the Holy Spirit


May 10-19

Join Bishop Gruss in praying for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Diocese of Saginaw

The Most Rev. Robert D. Gruss is the seventh bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.