A group of laypersons in the Northeast Kingdom’s Mater Dei Parish are building a culture of vocations there.

The Mater Dei Parish Vocation Ministry has seven active members, and one of them, Vela Bouchard, said she is encouraged by the progress they have made in their work to promote and increase the culture of vocations within the parish.

They created information stations at each of the parish’s four churches to provide information about the vocational options available and how to learn more. In addition to information about priesthood and religious life, there is information about Worldwide Marriage Encounter to deepen the marriage vocation.

The committee has worked with others who are striving to promote vocations such as the Vocationist Sisters from New Jersey who gave a vocation presentation in the parish.

Members also have been actively involved in the faith formation program, help with confirmation and support parish priests, past and present. “It is our duty as a committee to actively support our priests and recognize them for all their efforts as they serve a vital role in the growth and future of our parish,” Bouchard said.

The committee was initiated last year when several parishioners attended a workshop in White River Junction featuring Rhonda Gruenewald, author of “Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry.”

“The workshop brought home to each of us the importance of prayer, education and encouragement to promote vocations,” said committee member Janet Gratton.

Another member, Melissa Leblanc, said the most important thing any member of a parish can do to promote vocations is to pray: “Pray for vocations. Pray for our priests and religious. Pray for our married couples. We must never underestimate the power of prayer.”

She also emphasized the need to support families in one’s parish. “Vocations come from faithful families. So never hesitate to thank the mom whose baby was crying through Mass or the dad whose toddler ran up the aisle for bringing their children to Mass,” she said. “Parents need encouragement, and it means so much to hear a kind, gentle word from fellow parishioners. Keep the families coming to Mass.”

Vocations begin at home, added committee member Debbie Delabruere. “So it would make sense that laity in the Church would play a part of the vocation ministry.”

Originally published in the July 1, 2018, Ordination Supplement