According to the most recent survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a national, non-profit, Georgetown University-affiliated research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church, the number of parishes in the United States without a resident pastor or priest has steadily increased to 3,496. 1
Unfortunately, the statistics are not just worrisome for our priests. “Today, the total number of women religious in the United States has fallen below fifty thousand, representing a 72.5 percent decline from the peak total in 1965. There are about as many women religious in the United States now as there were a hundred years ago.”2 This statistic alone shows the dire need and a true call for action for all the faithful to get to work, promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life in their parish.
We all know that marriages are under attack in our society. Men and women from all walks of life arrive at the altar each year to pledge themselves in love to one another. For marriages to last in a happy and holy way, a solid relationship with God, selflessness, and sacrifice must be present on a daily basis. Both husband and wife must recognize that love is not just a passing feeling, but a choice to do what is best for one other. If the couple has children, they are also called to do what is best for the children—from God’s perspective. We need to affirm marriage as a vocation and lead the youth to know that discernment for marriage is vital part of the process of finding a husband or wife.
Before undertaking any new task or activity, St. Aloysius Gonzaga asked the question, “What will it be worth for Eternity?” Each priest, religious, and married person comes into contact with hundreds or even thousands of people over the course of their life. By praying for, bringing awareness to, and affirming these vocations, many other souls will be touched. The ripple effect from the work of a single Vocation Ministry could be more like a tsunami.