How Vocation Offices can stay effective & relevant during the coronavirus slowdown
By Sam Alzheimer
As normal life grinds to a halt, how can your Vocation Office still help young men? Guys have more time on their hands and may be experiencing isolation. The temptation could be to binge on Netflix or scroll Instagram for hours.
But there could be a silver lining: guys also have more time for serious prayer and discernment. I think the challenge is to inspire and equip men to be intentional about how they’ll approach this time of uncertainty.
Here are six ideas for your Vocation Office to stay engaged.
1. Livestream daily Mass for candidates and seminarians
In the absence of public Masses, consider live-streaming your daily Mass and sending personal invitations to candidates, prospects, and seminarians. Homily topics could include: how to handle isolation, taking extended time to pray & discern, looking for safe ways to serve in a crisis.
2. Discernment e-newsletter
If you’ve been thinking about a discernment e-newsletter, now is the time to start one (or resurrect your old one). You can do this via email, of course, or create a blog post that can be shared via social media. Our recommendation is to address one topic of discernment, and perhaps promote an upcoming event or two. If you want help or need content, email Sam Alzheimer.
3. Online Melchizedek Project discernment group
While your discernment group can’t meet in person, you can meet online. We’ve found the best tool is probably a paid service like Zoom, as it offers highest reliability. Skype is also a good option. (Unfortunately we’ve run into technical limitations with Facebook Video Chat and Google Meet, but you may know of another free platform). The point is, though: discernment groups still work well, even online!
Pro-tip: involve seminarians! Many seminarians now have the time available for a 90-minute video conference. Your current men are almost always the best inspiration for men in discernment.
4. Mail guys a book
Snail-mail can become important during a time of social isolation, as it provides a physical touch point. Plus it’s out-of-the-ordinary for guys who live online to receive mail, so they’re likely to pay attention.
We can help: If you send us an address list, Vianney Vocations will mail guys the book of your choice, with a cover letter from you. Popular choices are To Save a Thousand Souls, Discerning Priesthood, or Is Jesus Calling You to Be a Catholic Priest?
5. Pick up the phone
If you’re typically too busy for much regular contact with discerners, and now find yourself with downtime, pick up the phone. Your men will appreciate a text or phone call.
6. Remind Catholic teachers about Vocation Lessons
Catholic schools are attempting a novel experiment with online, in-home instruction. Vianney Vocations has temporarily opened free access to Vocation Lessons, our K-12 vocations curriculum. Feel free to email principals the access code. Login for teachers: vocations2020. Login for students: vocation2love.