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VM About The Story of Vocation Ministry

The Story of Vocation Ministry

Vocation Ministry inadvertently began in 2011 at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Houston, TX with a simple ask by a parish priest and a simple yes by a faithful laywoman. “Our newly ordained parochial vicar, Fr. Victor Perez, asked me to come to a meeting about priests,” recalled Rhonda Gruenewald, founder of Vocation Ministry. “Fr. Victor had been tasked with reviving the parish vocation committee that had been dormant for more than five years.” Being a convert to the Church, Rhonda did not know what he was talking about. “Vocations, in the Catholic context, was foreign to me,” said Rhonda. “But after hearing Fr. Victor’s enthusiasm for everything vocation-related, I became hooked and took over as leader of the newly-found Vocation Ministry.”

From there, Rhonda went home to research anything she could about vocations. Finding nothing detailed about how to start or revive a committee, Rhonda let the Holy Spirit guide the direction of the committee.  “We prayed and promoted vocations any way we could at our parish, from starting Adoration for Vocations to playing pin-the-miter-on-the-Bishop at our parish festival,” remembered Rhonda. After 18 months, she was asked how she could place this model for a vocation ministry in every parish in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. In response she thought maybe she could write a pamphlet. But the Holy Spirit had much larger plans. “Seventeen months later, the “pamphlet” was a fully published 288-page book with an imprimatur!” said Rhonda.

The goal of Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry was to provide information, activities, and inspiration to anyone starting, reviving, or refreshing a vocation ministry, and to help those ministries thrive. It was designed to inspire parishes to get involved in vocation work, to help new ministries start strong by providing a clear guide to the nuts and bolts of the ministry and to reinvigorate long-standing committees with fresh ideas that attract new workers to his vineyard.

Hundredfold was Immediately well-received and those inspired by the book began asking for more resources. That same year, VocationMinistry.com was launched as a platform to assist others in starting a vocations ministry and to create a resourceful network of people all working towards the same goal.

Ultimately, the success of the book and website gave rise to the creation of Vocation Ministry, a non-profit organization committed to the work of vocation promotion to Catholic parishes and dioceses throughout the United States and Canada by providing practical hands-on resources, workshops and presentations to equip those seeking to promote vocations at all levels within the Church. Finally – a vocations network and resource hub had come to life – God was at work!

As Vocation Ministry grew, so did the demand for more resources. In April 2017, Sembrando Semillas, a Spanish translation of her book was published, providing additional materials specifically related to predominantly Spanish speaking parishes.  The website was also made available in Spanish along with workshops and presentations.

Since that time, Vocation Ministry has worked with more than 12,000 vocation promotors nationwide with that number increasing each year. “The demand is there,” says Rhonda. “People everywhere are passionate about increasing and nurturing vocations. I see it all over the country. This passion stems not only from a desire to foster more healthy vocations, but truly from people’s love for Christ and his Church. The Church of tomorrow already exists – we just have to begin to awaken it!”

In 2021, we added The Harvest: A Guide to Vocation Ministry in Education after being asked many times “What can we do in our Catholic schools?” This 200-page comprehensive guide provides practical advice and inspiration, including 75 impactful activities, easily implemented in classroom settings. This ground-breaking approach to vocation ministry gives our Catholic educators the resources needed to positively affect the Church and our youth for generations to come!

To equip Catholic school principals and teachers, DREs and catechists, youth ministers, and homeschool families with implementing these activities, Vocation Ministry created new education-based workshops specifically designed to encourage, inspire, and equip Catholic educators to create a vocation-friendly environment. One teacher said, “This is the clear roadmap for encouraging vocations in my classroom.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us!