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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, priests are being called into great heroic action by offering the sacraments to the sick and dying, finding creative ways to serve parishioners, and maintaining empty parishes with limited staff support. In response, Houston-based Vocation Ministry is set to launch the first-ever nationwide “Uplift Your Priest” campaign from April 20 through May 1. The campaign is designed to inspire the laity to support and encourage their priests who are now on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and to let clergy know that their people recognize their current sacrifices.
“Our priests are in a vulnerable position like never before,” said Rhonda Gruenewald, founder of Vocation Ministry, an international organization whose mission is to equip dioceses and parishes to promote vocations. “They need to know that we are behind them. They need to be 'uplifted!'”
The “Uplift Your Priest” campaign will use social media and resources available in both English and Spanish on www.vocationmininstry.com to promote a variety of ways the laity can “uplift” priests over the next two weeks. Ideas include offering a spiritual bouquet, drop off or have lunch/dinner delivered, text/email/write a note of encouragement, challenge three families/individuals to pray a Rosary for their priest (think ice bucket challenge on social media), or deliver protective gear or cleaning supplies to the rectory.
“The possibilities are endless,” stated Gruenewald. “We hope by offering concrete and practical ideas that we can mobilize Catholics everywhere to uplift their priests and be a source of encouragement during this stressful time.”
Since its founding in 2015, Vocation Ministry has become a driving force for promoting vocations in North America. Through their hands-on Hundredfold Workshops, Vocation Ministry focuses on establishing and sustaining parish-based vocation ministries to create a vocation-friendly environment that inspires adults and children to consider a supernatural call to the priesthood, consecrated life, or to sacramental marriage.
“It’s an honor to more fully live my vocation to the priesthood during this unprecedented time,” remarked Fr. Jon Schnobrich, a priest from the Diocese of Burlington, VT. “To know that my parishioners are behind me, praying for me, and offering their support does a great deal to lift my spirits and keep me focused on the work at hand. I’m very grateful for Vocation Ministry’s efforts to launch this campaign. I know many of my brother priests will feel the same.”
“Uplift Your Priest” begins Monday, April 20 and will continue through Friday, May 1. Vocation Ministry will be circulating ideas and resources through Facebook, Instagram, and through the resource page found on their website www.vocationministry.com.