February 27, 2015

Parish Vocations Gathering set for March 14 at college seminary

Linda Augenstein, left, and Kathy Kaler, both members of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis, speak about vocations on Feb. 15 with Bil Danner, the parish’s director of adult faith formation, at St. Jude’s “vocations station” in the narthex of its church. Augenstein helps lead St. Jude’s vocations committee, which maintains the vocations station. (Submitted photo)

Linda Augenstein, left, and Kathy Kaler, both members of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis, speak about vocations on Feb. 15 with Bil Danner, the parish’s director of adult faith formation, at St. Jude’s “vocations station” in the narthex of its church. Augenstein helps lead St. Jude’s vocations committee, which maintains the vocations station. (Submitted photo)

By Sean Gallagher

Over the past 10 years, more seminarians for the Church in central and southern Indiana have been members of parishes in the Indianapolis South Deanery than any other archdiocesan deanery.

Over that same time, the deanery has also had more parish vocations committees than any other deanery.

Father Eric Augenstein, archdiocesan vocations director, who himself grew up in St. Jude Parish in the Indianapolis South Deanery, recently reflected on these two statistics.

“Do they mean there’s a direct correlation [between the two]? Not necessarily,” he said. “But it makes you stop and think.”

In any case, Father Augenstein said, parish vocations committees “certainly make a contribution of creating a culture in which priestly and religious vocations are honored, respected and lifted up as a possibility.”

Representatives of parish vocations committees in the archdiocese and members of parishes who would like to form such committees will meet from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on March 14 at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, 2500 Cold Spring Road, in Indianapolis. The second annual Parish Vocations Gathering is sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Vocations.

Joseph Dwenger, who helped start the vocations committee at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis in 2008, is looking forward to the event.

“You can learn from each other,” Dwenger said. “There will be other people from various parishes there that will have information that they’d be willing to share.

“We’re all in this together. It’s a great way to learn from each other.”

Examining the various initiatives of vocations committees at Nativity and St. Jude parishes—neighboring parishes in Indianapolis—suggests the diversity of ways that vocations awareness can be promoted in faith communities.

St. Jude’s committee maintains a “vocations station” in the narthex of the parish’s church, where information about vocations and posters of seminarians and people in religious life from the parish and archdiocese are posted.

The committee also makes sure that prayers for vocations are included in the general intercessions at each weekend Mass. And it has invited priests and seminarians to be speakers during National Vocations Awareness Week.

Nativity’s committee includes prayers for vocations in the parish bulletin, makes “vocations baskets” featuring rosaries and prayers for vocations available for families in the parish to take home, and sponsors a trip to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Bernie and Linda Augenstein, co-chairs of St. Jude’s committee, and Father Augenstein’s parents, were at a loss at how the committee could promote vocations when they became its leaders in 2011.

“We had no idea what to do,” Linda said. “We went online and found a lot of things. We talked to a lot of people.”

She thinks the gathering at Bruté on March 14 will assist parishes just starting or considering founding vocations committees.

“We’re going to give them some ideas about what they can do to start their own vocations committee,” Linda said. “And for those who already have a vocations committee, we’ll have ideas for them, too, such as best practices and networking.”

No matter what initiative a particular parish’s vocations committee might sponsor or how committees from different parishes might cooperate, their ultimate goal is to get parishioners to be thinking about vocations more consciously and regularly, says Marilyn Ellis, a member of Nativity’s committee.

“We need to help our fellow parishioners be more aware of Christ’s call to us,” she said. “Through a vocations committee, we can help our fellow parishioners be more aware to listen to God’s call. It needs to be an active part of our parish ministry.”
 

(People interested in attending the second annual Parish Vocations Gathering on March 14 at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis need to register by March 4. Register online at www.HearGodsCall.com, by e-mailing Elizabeth Escoffery at eescoffery@archindy.org or by calling 800-382-9836, ext. 1490 or 317-236-1490.)

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