The Diocese of Nashville Office of Vocations launched a new initiative to invite teens to consider the possibility they are being called to the priesthood.
The office hosted its first St. Andrew Dinner on Thursday, May 12, at the Catholic Pastoral Center.
Fifty-six teens from fifth grade through 12th grade, who had been recommended by their pastors, from 12 parishes attended the event, which included Evening Prayer, dinner, and talks by Bishop J. Mark Spalding and Father Austin Gilstrap, director of vocations.
The Office of Vocations sent a letter to pastors asking them to consider inviting those in their parish who have shown signs of faith, leadership and service, said Jerilyn Rost, assistant director of the Office of Vocations.
The program is designed to help the Office of Vocations connect with teens who have been recognized by people in the parish as having the qualities of a good priest, she said.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University recently reported that 45 percent of seminarians had been encouraged by a parishioner to consider a vocation to the priesthood, and 66 percent had been encouraged by a parish priest, Rost noted.
The Vocations Office modeled the dinner after similar programs in other dioceses across the country that have had success, Rost said.