National Vocational Awareness Week – Discerning a Vocation to Religious Life

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had designated November 2-8, 2014 as National Vocational Awareness week in the USA. Here at JCA we are going to focus on vocations in a more intense way this week through our morning prayers and trying to raise awareness of the vocational calling to serve the Lord in the community of the Church.  We will be running a series of vocation stories each day this week from members of our JCA community.

Did you know that in 2014 there were 46, 451 religious women in the United States and their median age is 74 years old. There are also 38, 275 priests in the U.S., with a median age of 64.  Those totals are about half of what the Church had at its peak in the 1950’s and 1960’s. As those numbers continue to decrease, the entire Church is faced with a dilemma of not enough priests and sisters to meet the needs. JCA is currently blessed with 2 Franciscan sisters and 1 Carmelite priest on the staff.  However, who knows how long that will last?  Fr. Jeff and Sr. Barb will not be in campus ministry forever. The Diocese of Joliet had a vocational awareness message in all the parishes of the Diocese last weekend with the message, “who will fill these shoes?” We issue that same challenge, Who will fill our shoes as the next Carmelites and Franciscans to serve JCA? We challenge all our JCA families to raise the question and encourage their sons and daughters to think of religious vocations as a way of life. We attached a guide to discerning a religious vocation. If any one wishes to discuss the possibility of religious life or you know of someone who would make a good religious, please contact the JCA Campus Ministry Office.


The following thoughts come from an article published by the National Religious Vocation Conference.


  • Everyone is “called” by God to a full human and Christian life, and full participation in the life of the Church
  • Every vocation (marriage, religious life, priesthood, single life) is a call to community, holiness of life and service to others, and no vocation is “better”, “higher” or “holier” than the others
  • A vocation to the religious life has its own specific signs, qualities, characteristics, and skills as do the other vocations


  • A desire to live this life: an attraction to the spiritual life and the life and ministry of the particular religious order and the Church
  • A motivation to serve: to share the Good News of Jesus to build up the Kingdom of God
  • Being fit for the life and ministry: having the necessary skills and abilities for religious life, ministry and living the vows
  • Peace: becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of a religious vocation


  • Prayer and scripture: seek God’s light, direction and love in your life through personal prayer and reading the Word of God
  • Information: get to know and visit the religious community that you are attracted to; they can assist you in the reflection/discernment process
  • Parish life: participate in Sunday Eucharist and other parish activities
  • Service to others: volunteer and/or become involved in apostolic work with others


  1. Am I deepening my spiritual life and participating in the life of my parish or prayer community?
  2. Am I using and developing my God-given talents (academic, social, emotional, physical) for my life and service to others?
  3. Am I aware of the needs of others and do I respond to them in love and generosity?

Submitted by Fr. Jeff Smialek, O. Carm., and Sr. Barb Kwiatkowski, OSF, Campus Ministers


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