June 4, 2021

Magnet priests and nuns meant to encourage prayer for vocations

A miniature priest and nun refrigerator magnets are displayed on a refrigerator. In an initiative of the archdiocesan vocations office, 30,000 of them have been crafted and will be distributed in parishes across central and southern Indiana as a reminder to Catholics to pray for priestly and religious vocations. (Submitted photo)

A miniature priest and nun refrigerator magnets are displayed on a refrigerator. In an initiative of the archdiocesan vocations office, 30,000 of them have been crafted and will be distributed in parishes across central and southern Indiana as a reminder to Catholics to pray for priestly and religious vocations. (Submitted photo)

By Sean Gallagher

The first weekend of June is ordinarily when men are ordained priests for the Church in central and southern Indiana. There will be no ordinations this year, however, because the archdiocese does not have seminarians at present who have completed their priestly formation.

But Catholics in parishes across the archdiocese will be given reminders this weekend to pray regularly for an increase in priestly and religious vocations.

The reminders are handcrafted, miniature priests and nuns that can serve as refrigerator magnets.

It’s the idea of Father Michael Keucher, archdiocesan vocations director and pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville. He has been impressed at how Chick Fil-A restaurants have given away toy soldiers to customers around Veterans Day to encourage them to remember those who serve in our country’s armed forces.

He thought something similar could be done for priestly and religious vocations.

“The goal is to put vocations in front of people, to remind people of the need to be praying for vocations, especially to the priesthood and religious life,” Father Keucher said. “It puts vocations in the home, because homes will have a priest or a nun on its refrigerator door. It’ll be seen every day by everybody in the house.”

But a lot of work was needed to accomplish that goal if the magnets of priests and nuns were to be distributed in faith communities across central and southern Indiana.

That’s where Gaye McKinney arrived. One of Father Keucher’s parishioners at St. Joseph, McKinney developed a plan to make the magnets quickly and inexpensively.

“Being a grandmother, I have a refrigerator full of my grandkids’ drawings and notes,” she said. “So, I thought, ‘Why don’t we just put them up on refrigerators?’ Everybody at one point or another during the day goes to their refrigerator. It’s a great reminder to pray for priestly and religious vocations.”

The miniature priests and nuns are made of tongue depressors or wooden pegs, felt, hot glue and magnetic tape. A permanent black marker puts a face on the priests and nuns. There is also a card on each one that offers a reminder to pray for priestly and religious vocations and has the address for the archdiocese’s vocations website.

“Each one has a distinct personality, depending on the artist drawing the face,” McKinney said. “Some look like they’re in prayer. We have some very jovial priests [too].”

Each miniature priest or nun costs about 8 cents and takes about 4 minutes to make.

Although the cost was low, Father Keucher wanted 30,000 of the miniature priests and nuns, so about $4,000 was needed for supplies.

Funding came from the Donald L. Mezepella Endowment Fund for Vocations of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood.

“It was nice to be able to use the resources for its intended purpose and assist [Father Keucher] in his mission to help promote vocations, especially to priesthood and religious life,” said Father Todd Goodson, Our Lady of the Greenwood’s pastor. “I hope that we can continue to partner with the vocations office and assist them with its needs.”

Dozens of volunteers at St. Joseph, other archdiocesan parishes and organizations like the Indianapolis Serra Club have pitched in to help make the miniature priests and nuns.

Mary Dougherty is a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis and of the Indianapolis Serra Club. She and other volunteers have been making refrigerator magnet priests and nuns, and hopes to distribute them in the parishes of the Indianapolis North Deanery.

“We’re part of something that’s much bigger,” said Dougherty. “I’m amazed at how many people that [Father Keucher] got involved doing this. There’s such a need to make people aware of the need for vocations. If they hang one of these on their refrigerator, it’s going to be something to remind them every day.”

Many volunteers in Shelbyville have spent several hours a day making the magnets. McKinney said the gathering of the volunteers has been faith-filled.

“We pause every work session to pray the Angelus,” she said. “There’s such a sense of community. We talk about our priests from our past, seminarians who have been here and all the remarkable things that our faith does. It goes beyond the scope of just getting together and having fun. You can feel the presence of faith and spirit in that workroom.”

Father Keucher has been amazed by the way that Catholics at his parish and well beyond have pitched in to make his idea of encouraging people to pray for priestly and religious vocations a reality.

“It’s exciting to see so many people jump on board to help the vocations efforts of the archdiocese,” he said. “People are excited. They want vocations. It’s really encouraging.”
 

(For more information about vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the archdiocese, visit HearGodsCall.com.)

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!