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Diocese Marks National Vocations Awareness Week

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The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocations Awareness Week January 11-17. The observance, originated in 1976, begins each year on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which marks Jesus’ initiation into public ministry.

In a letter to the people of the Diocese of Raleigh, Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge notes the Feast reminds us that “through our own Baptism, all of us are called to love and serve God.” The Bishop encourages parents to help their children discover their vocations and to “become aware of God’s presence in their lives….”

“During this special time,” the Bishop writes, “we renew our prayers to the Lord of the Harvest asking Him to provide the Diocese of Raleigh with more priests and an increase of vocations to Religious Life.”

The Diocese currently has 14 men in formation for the Priesthood. Diocesan Vocations Director Fr. Bernard (Ned) Shlesinger, III, said the seminarians come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences and are committed like those first apostles to leave everything, including their livelihoods and their families to respond to God’s call. “These men will know that they will stand out from many of their contemporaries who are indifferent or even antagonistic towards the values and beliefs of their Catholic faith,” Fr. Shlesinger said.

“The most important element in a vocations program is prayer,” he added. “The family is also essential in the fostering of vocations since as the domestic church it serves as the first seminary or novitiate in the formation of the Christian heart.”

Fr. Shlesinger said one of the many joys of his ministry is working with those discerning priesthood, because they hunger for that which the world is unable to satisfy. “The youth of today are very open to the spiritual life but are often afraid to make commitments,” Fr. Shlesinger said. “Since love is a commitment, helping men and women discern their vocations is also a work of helping them come to know Jesus Christ as the one friend who will never disappoint them.”