Introduction to Our Parish Toolkit

Introduction to Our Parish Toolkit

“When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” Matthew 9: 36-38

Continuing the Tradition

In April 1528, the Spanish explorer Panfilo de Narvaez landed on the shores of St. Petersburg on what is now known as Jungle Prada. With him were those who sought to spread Christianity, including eight diocesan and five Franciscan priests. One of those priests, Fr. Juan Xuarez, OFM, had received an appointment as Bishop of Florida. A few days after their arrival, Fr. Xuarez celebrated Easter Mass ashore. It was the morning of April 16th, 1528.

For nearly 500 years now, Catholicism has been present in our Diocese. For 500 years Jesus has given Himself in the Eucharist, through the sacred Priesthood, to those who live in this place we call home. It is my conviction that, with the Lord’s grace, your help, and the courage of the men and women in your parishes, the faith will continue to persist in the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

I am so glad that you have received this toolkit and have begun to look through it. I am confident that what lies within it will assist you and your parish in creating a culture of vocations throughout your parish. This toolkit is designed for pastors and parishioners to take the next step in creating this culture of vocations. Whether this “next step” is the first step or the hundredth, this toolkit will be a resource for you. Within these pages are sections targeted at the various ministries/groups you may have in your parish, with suggestions on how they can create a culture of vocations within them and, by extension, within your parish.

The creation in parishes of a culture that courageously encourages vocations is essential to the life of each parish and our entire Catholic community. Marriage is the primary vocation of the majority of Catholics and must be encouraged and promoted. Strong marriage preparation programs and ministries which care for the well-being of families are essential. With that being said, the scope of this particular toolkit must be limited in order to make it usable. This toolkit is focused on courageously encouraging vocations to priesthood and religious life. It is my firm belief that creating a culture that is open to these particular vocations of service will also greatly benefit those who are called to the Sacrament of Marriage.

The individuals who are entrusted with promoting and encouraging vocations will invariably hear several objections to the idea of a religious or priestly vocation. People fear that religious and priests are lonely or unhappy. Parents grieve the perceived loss of future grandchildren. They are afraid that if their daughter enters religious life, they will “lose” them. The called themselves often are keenly aware of their own inadequacy and don’t believe themselves good or holy enough for the call they feel they’ve received.

This toolkit will assist you and your parish in alleviating the fears of those called and their families. It provides ways in which various areas of your parish can become hot-spots for vocational encouragement. By no means do you need to implement everything in this book! Decide what you and your vocations ministry can accomplish now and start there.

With deep gratitude for your cooperation in this work,

Fr. Chuck Dornquast
Director of Vocations and Seminarians

How to Use the Toolkit

What Are Vocations