Parishioners commit to praying Rosaries for Priests - and sisters and brothers
In this article, a member of the St. Peter parish vocation committee in Jefferson City talks about the commitment members of the Jefferson City parishes have made to pray the Rosary for priests and for priestly vocations.
By Mary Wiseman
In 2007, the St. Peter parish vocation committee, while looking for ways to involve the entire parish community in praying together for vocations, was led by the Holy Spirit to the idea of a Rosary Crusade. Rosary Crusades date back to the Battle of Lepanto in 1570 and more recently became popular in the 1950s when promoted by an Irish priest named Father Patrick Peyton.
Mary's Rosary is our most powerful prayer outside of the Mass. Who is more likely to plead for us when we are in need than Mary, our spiritual Mother? Remember Mary at the Wedding Feast at Cana? Mothers are very powerful at getting things done. Mary is also the Mother of priests in a special way because she was the mother of Jesus Christ, in Whose Priesthood all Catholic priests participate. In fact, Mary is the mother of all Christian vocations because she accepted the first Christian vocation when she said "yes" to God and agreed to be the mother of Jesus.
A few years before the vocation committee began its deliberations - during the time when the national headlines shouted about fallen priests and the associated scandals - the Body of Christ had let our priests down. As parishioners, we had demanded a great deal from our priests. But far too often, we had been critical of them and had not prayed for them often enough.
In a marriage, the husband and wife are prayer warriors for one another. In a parish, the parishioners need to intercede in the spiritual battles on behalf of God's chosen men and women. The call came forth to pray for the priests and religious - to pray regularly, effectively and faithfully.
The St. Peter parish vocation committee wanted to use an easy-to-remember acronym. One of our permanent deacons got the idea to use R.F.P. - Rosary for Priests. With Jefferson City being a government city, the term RFP is quite common among government employees (standing for Request for Proposal). It was clear from the beginning that parishioners would also be praying Rosaries for religious sisters and brothers and all other vocations in the Church. We then designed the pledge forms we would use for this prayer commitment.
2,000 Rosaries in the first year!
In October 2007, on Priesthood Sunday, St. Peter parish and Cathedral of St. Joseph parish introduced R.F.P. at each Mass with a short talk and distributed the pledge forms to be completed and returned in the collection basket. Immaculate Conception parish in Jefferson City began participating at a later date.
Participants could pledge to pray as much as they felt comfortable. We posted the results in the bulletin and were astounded that parishioners - young, elderly, and entire families - promised to pray a total of 2,000 Rosaries a week, invoking Mary's powerful intercession in our time of need for religious vocations!
A year later, on Priesthood Sunday 2008, we again passed out the pledge forms at Mass after a short talk and asked everyone to renew their pledges for the coming year. Periodically, we put reminders in the bulletin least we forget about what we pledged. The desire to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life continues to grow at St. Peter parish. Monsignor Donald W. Lammers, pastor, and the parish liturgy committee agreed to ask the congregation to pray a special Vocations Prayer during the Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses on the first Sunday of every month.
Much more praying to do
We hope to spread this crusade of prayer for our priests and all vocations throughout our diocese, starting with our own deanery. All it takes is an introduction at weekend Masses, which has already been written and we would gladly share. We also have the pledge forms available.
The sacraments are our spiritual food and healing given to us by Christ and provided to us now by our priests. In past generations we have been blessed with many religious vocations. But today our secular society robs our young people of the inclination, time and silence to discern their vocation through prayer. One thing is for certain, God is still calling. Are we listening?
Someone asked how long the commitment would be to pray for vocations. The answer: until we announce from the pulpit, that the seminaries, convents and monasteries across the world are simply too full. Even then, never, never, never stop praying! Let us all join in praying that more young men and women will discover, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, their true vocation that God has planned for them.