Bishop Persico leads prayers for church vocations Tuesday

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Erie Diocese Shield

The public is invited to St. Michael Church, 811 Chestnut St., Emlenton on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., to spend an hour in prayerful adoration before the Eucharist, asking that more people respond to the call to serve as priests, deacons and sisters. Father Bill Barron, pastor of St. Michael Parish, will participate in the evening, which is being held as part of National Vocations Awareness Week, Nov. 2-9.

Early research in preparation for the pastoral planning effort the diocese has begun reveals sobering statistics. Today the Diocese of Erie has 162 priests, 121 of whom are not retired. Projections considering the number of seminarians studying for the priesthood as well as likely deaths or retirements of current priests show that ten years from now there likely will be just 74 active priests; 20 years from now, the number drops to 36 active priests. The retirement age for priests is 75.

“In a world full of distractions, vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life are still possible,” says the Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, bishop of Erie. “God continues to call people to serve in this way, but they’re not always listening.”
Father Steve Schreiber, director of the Vocation Office for the diocese, says there is a critical need for new priestly vocations in the diocese.
“This is an effort to do exactly what Jesus asks us to do, which is to pray to the master of the harvest that there will be more laborers for the harvest,” he says. Noting that holy hours are “a time-honored way” to pray for vocations, he has helped organize six holy hours at locations throughout the 10,000-square-mile Catholic Diocese of Erie this week.

Vocations, especially to the priesthood, have been a top priority for Bishop Persico since his arrival in October 2012. He regularly challenges the parishioners at churches he visits to do their part by praying for and nurturing vocations among their parish members, and consistently brings up the subject with young people in both formal and informal settings. Earlier this year he issued a prayer card for vocations.

Here are the other locations throughout the Diocese of Erie where Holy Hours are scheduled during the week:

Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.—St. Mark Seminary, 429 E. Grandview Blvd., Erie
Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.—Venango Catholic High School, 1505 West First St., Oil City
Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m.—DuBois Central Catholic High School, 200 Central Christian Road, DuBois
Nov. 5 during school hours only—Elk County Catholic High School, 600 Maurus St., St. Marys.
Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.—Kennedy Catholic High School, 2120 Shenango Valley Freeway, Hermitage

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