Diocese prepares for Priesthood Sunday, celebration of National Vocations Awareness Week

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As of Thursday, Oct. 30, the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries is nearing 75 percent of its $3 million goal, coming in at $2,228,045. 

The week of Nov. 4-5, parishioners across all 60 churches of the Diocese of Nashville will be able to continue to support the annual appeal while also making a specific and significant contribution to the 28 men currently in formation for the priesthood in the diocese with the special Priesthood Sunday collection. The second collection will be available during each Mass that weekend.

“Priesthood Sunday helps raise money for seminarians to provide for their formation,” explained Ashley Linville, director of the Office of Stewardship and Development. 

For more information about the Priesthood Sunday collection, visit dioceseofnashville.com/priesthood-sunday/

The emphasis on spreading the good news of vocations does not end with the Priesthood Sunday collection, however. Instead, it is the starting point as the Diocese of Nashville and dioceses around the world celebrate National Vocations Awareness Week Nov. 5-11.

It’s an initiative that has been implemented throughout the episcopacy of Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding, Bishop of Nashville. 

National Vocations Awareness Week is an opportunity for dioceses around the world to “promote vocations to ordained ministry and consecrated life through prayer, invitation, and education,” according to the Vocations Awareness Week page on the National Religious Vocation Conference website. 

To celebrate this year, the Office of Vocations will have a week-long social media campaign to promote vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and married life. 

To follow the campaign, follow @nashvocations on Instagram or like and follow @NashVocations on Facebook. 

“The point is to cultivate the culture of vocations in the diocese, which is something that has been growing,” said Father Luke Wilgenbusch, director of vocations. “That’s why our diocesan Priesthood Sunday is the weekend leading into National Vocations Awareness Week. That way it doesn’t remain an exclusively financial initiative, but it is tied with this promotion of vocations in general. Because that cultural drive has been successful, it’s almost as if we’re tying the financial to the culture of vocations rather than the other way around because we know this is a topic that motivates people to support the work of the diocese.” 

“Generating that culture of giving allows us to be able to support more men to say ‘Yes’ to answering the call,” added Patrick Held, annual appeal coordinator. 

The culture of vocations is more evident than ever in the Diocese of Nashville as 28 men are currently in formation for the priesthood, including seven men currently in the first stage of seminary formation, what’s now known as, the Propaedeutic Stage, which is Greek for “pre-studies.” During this stage, the seminarians work in a parish.

“The Propaedeutic Stage is a new stage of seminary formation that the Vatican is asking dioceses around the world to adopt,” Father WIlgenbusch explained. “The Church has recognized, especially with the state of western culture today, the need to really solidify these young men in their human virtue and spiritual lives before sending them off to full-time studies in the seminary. 

“Additionally, it has provided a great opportunity for the men to get to know the life of a diocesan priest and the life of their local church in the diocese in a way that previous seminarian formation has not been able to allow for,” he added. 

The growing number of vocations to the priesthood “says that the consistent effort of people throughout the diocese over the last decade or more are bearing fruit by helping young men to hear God’s call in their life and to support their discernment and formation.” 

For more information about National Vocations Awareness Week, visit nrvc.net/274/publication/4171/article/18685-national-vocation-awareness-week-nov-5-11-2023

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