All are invited to pray for vocations

The Lord is calling, but more ‘yeses’ are needed, says Fr. Mleziva

Fr. Jose Lopez, administrator of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Green Bay, blesses Arnold and Jessica Silva and their children Stephanie and Nathan, after presenting them with a chalice and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary following Mass Oct. 24. Parish families commit to praying together daily for vocations as part of the chalice program. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

ALLOUEZ — The Office of Vocations of the Diocese of Green Bay has a simple request for the faithful throughout the diocese. Pray for more men and women to answer the call.

To help with this request, the Fiat Prayer Society was formed. Members pledge to pray the “Daily Prayer for Vocations” and the “Daily Prayer for Our Priests and Religious,” offer a weekly rosary or holy hour for the men in priestly formation for the diocese, offer holy Communion on the first Sunday of the month for vocations, and offer a share of any sufferings for the intention of more young people to say “yes” to vocations and in support of Bishop David Ricken, priests, deacons, and the religious men and women serving in the diocese.

“The concept is to gather people together to pray, to make it intentional,” said Fr. Mark Mleziva, vocation director. “It’s not so much the vocations, but the ‘yeses.’ The Lord is placing that call within young men’s and young women’s hearts, but we need our ‘yeses.’ Obviously, who said ‘yes’ to the Lord best was our Blessed Mother;, that’s why we focused on her.”

Fiat” is the Latin word for Mary’s response to the archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation. Similar vocation prayer societies in other dioceses use different names. Fr. Mleziva noted that when Bishop Ricken was a priest in the Diocese of Pueblo, Colo., the St. John Vianney Society was implemented there for vocations.

Over the past year, the Fiat Prayer Society has grown to more than 200 members, but more are needed, said Fr. Mleziva.

“We want to grow this organically. We’ve got members across the diocese,” he said. “As I preach on weekends at different parishes, and Fr. Adam (Bradley, director of the Kairos Year) does as well, I just leave (Fiat Prayer Society cards) there. I don’t hand them out. I will point out, ‘Hey, they are on this table. If you are interested, take a look.’ The intentionality is on their part if they want to be a part of it.”

Those who choose to join may sign a detachable portion of the card and mail it to the Office of Vocations or sign up online at gbvocations.org. There are no dues or meetings, just a commitment to prayer. The two daily prayers are included on the information card. Fr. Mleziva sends members a monthly email.

“It helps to keep it on their mind,” he said. “We include specific intentions for that month. It’s a way to keep them connected. That’s why we ask for their email. I send (the email message) at the beginning of the month, so that on first Sunday of the month they can offer their holy Communion.”

Another vocation prayer opportunity, for parishes, is the traveling chalice/crucifix program, which originated with Serra International, a foundation of lay Catholic men and women whose mission is to create a culture of vocations. Fr. Jose Lopez, administrator at SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Green Bay, started a traveling chalice program locally.

Fr. Lopez explained that he offers a blessing for a family, usually at the noon Spanish Mass on Sunday, as the father is given the chalice and the mother receives the Our Lady of Fatima statue. They take the chalice and statue home for the week and pray daily together as a family for vocations. They return the chalice and statue the following weekend.

“It’s pretty simple. Families are praying for ‘yeses,’” said Fr. Mleziva. “A lot of good seeds are being planted with this initiative.”

Fr. Lopez said that the number of altar servers has increased since the chalice program began. It has been so well received that he is considering adding a second chalice and statue to have two families dedicated to prayer for vocations each week.

Vocations updates

  • Seven men are discerning the call to the priesthood through the Kairos Year, under the direction of Fr. Bradley. They live in community at the Holy Name of Jesus House of Formation, located in Allouez on the St. Matthew Church property. The five “men on the Kairos Years” from 2020-2021 are all now among the 10 seminarians for the diocese.
  • Taylor Geiger, vocation coordinator, and Fr. Mleziva continue to produce the “Quo  Vadis? Podcast,” which is available for download at gbvocations.org.

“For a while, we were doing it every week, now it’s every other week,” said Fr. Mleziva. “People are listening to it. It’s surprising when people will reference something (from the podcast). I need to go back and listen. I enjoy it. Taylor sets the content and drives it. It’s fun to do it with him. Sometimes, it’s just the two of us and sometimes we have a guest. Our guests have told us that they’ve really enjoyed it.”

  • Fr. Mleziva continues to work with different diocesan offices to incorporate vocation messages. He said that the goal is to continue to increase presence in the schools, continue work with Elisa Tremblay, Marriage and Life Ministries director, and grow collaboration with young adult ministry and Hispanic ministry.

“It takes a lot to build culture,” said Fr. Mleziva. “It takes a lot of intentionality to build culture. We are hoping with a lot of this good news that it builds momentum. It’s going to take some time, but things are moving in the right direction. There is a lot to be hopeful for, not only for the guys, but for the Church of Green Bay.

  • The next St. Andrew Dinner for high school and college men who are open to the priesthood, will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 28. Mass with Bishop Ricken will begin at 5:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Chapel, 1825 Riverside Drive, Allouez. Supper and discussion will follow. For more information, contact Taylor Geiger, vocation coordinator, at [email protected].