Catholic schools play an integral role in encouraging vocations to religious life and the priesthood among our young people. Research from the Georgetown University-affiliated Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate linked Catholic schools to vocations, indicating that half or more of new priests and religious brothers, and 41 percent of new religious sisters attended Catholic grade school. The Lord has a beautiful, unique plan for each of His children, but He calls many in the Church into that special relationship with Him where they are invited to serve Him with their whole lives through consecrated religious life as a brother, sister or priest.
Catholic schools create a culture where children learn first and foremost that God has a plan for their lives, and then through learning to pray, the call to religious life can be heard, nurtured and followed. Our schools provide space for children to learn how to pray and how to listen to God speaking in their lives. Children also witness the joy, faith and humility of the priests and sisters who teach them, visit their classrooms and celebrate Mass with them each week. Through these encounters, many students begin to view a life completely given to God’s service as an appealing possibility for their own lives and open their hearts to hear the Lord’s call.
Vocations are vitally important for the future of our Church. Recently, I attended one of our school’s galas, and four current priests of our archdiocese shared how influential Catholic school was on their own vocational discernment. Our community of faith relies on the leadership and holy example that Catholic brothers, sisters and priests provide. Catholic schools encourage the development of the whole person as a child of God so that when children hear God’s call, they are ready to listen and follow Him, wherever His plan leads. As we continue to pray for an increase in vocations in our archdiocese, I invite you to also pray for all those who form the young hearts, minds and souls of children in Catholic schools. May our Lord call many of our young people to follow Him with undivided hearts in consecrated life or the priesthood!