Advertising vocations

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Chovy

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I was sitting in Mass this weekend praying for vocations and something struck me. Why do we not advertise more for vocations? I don’t mean mentioning the need for vocations at Mass, I mean actually ADVERTISING the benefits and other positive outcomes of choosing religious life on the radio, on TV, on billboards, etc.

The closest thing I could compare it to is how the U.S. military advertises military careers. Maybe if the priesthood didn’t seem like something young men chose in the olden days and if our young men saw what was in it for them, more would be making the choice to hear God’s call.

Obviously, God has to call men to the priesthood. I don’t think He’s calling fewer men, but I do think less men are hearing Him. Maybe the Church needs to hit them with another source of messages.
 
I agree. I have seen a few media ads and an occasional billboard asking for consideration of religious vocation. There are more ads in Catholic publications, of course. I think the bishops are hesitant to do a modern ad campaign because these smack of manipulation. The bishops may think that the call to a religious life must be from within and that modern ads might bring forth false vocations. I think this is too simplistic. The seminary screening process should be good enough to prevent this.
 
I would be content with a little more “advertising” from the pulpit.

Traveling here and there and far and wide, I can tell you that generally, sermons where a exortation to considera priestly vocation is not HALF as common as I would like it to be. Vague reference to “Pray for vocations” just isn’t the same.

Of course, I am not easy to please, because I have not been crazy about the TOTAL SILENCE from most pulpits on the meaning and purpose of Christian marriage.

Billboards are good, good sermons are better.
 
actually there have been a couple of nationwide campaigns in the last couple of years, including the video linked on a sticky above this site.
 
Thanks for pointing that out, puzzleannie. I watch a lot (too much) tv and I’ve never seen an ad. I am eager to click on the link and to see what the ad is like!

Thanks again,
 
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There have been some efforts out there, usually spearheaded by a diocesan vocation office. Anyone else remember the Matrix ad a couple years ago?

img398.imageshack.us/img398/5275/20050705500vv.jpg

or a little larger: catecheticsonline.com/forum/uploads/1151969902/gallery_14_14_496.jpg

There’s also a graphic designer out there that’s designed some great vocation posters. answerthecallofthelord.com I believe.

Ads and posters are great, but nothing beats priests and bishops actively promoting vocations, and personally asking young men if they’ve considered the priesthood. I forget the exact numbers (so someone please correct me if I’m wrong), but something like 60% or 70% of seminarians said they considered the priesthood because a priest in their life brought it up to them. None said they entered seminary because of a pamphlet or poster.

On the flip side, only something like 10% or 15% of priests actually ask young men personally in that way. Can you imagine what it would be like if they all did?

God hasn’t stopped calling men to Orders. We’re just not hearing Him. Sometimes we need that nudge.
 
From what I’ve seen, some priests are afraid of appearing too pushy or making the young men feel as it they’re being stalked.
 
Although some advertising is good, it is usually its gimmicky and has been proven ineffective. It is also usually a sign of desperation. A good example of this was a few years ago the Diocese of Providence, R.I. advertised on MTV. Yes, MTV! Needless to say, it flopped.

Aspirants are not often going to be motivated to consider priesthood and religious life by Madison Avenue marketing techniques. That may get you to buy Pepsodent instead of Colgate or a Ford instead of Chevrolet, but vocations are different.
%between%
What’s the message of that poster? To me it says that being a priest is a part time job, with part time commitment. It is diminishing priestly identity so as to say that being a priest is like any other “job” that only takes up one part of your life. In reality, the priesthood is a supernatural call requiring men to lay down their lives.

But in general are advertisements effective? No. See the report that the USCCB commissioned “The Class of 2007: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood: A Report to the Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation United States Conference of Catholic Bishops”

www.usccb.org/vocations/ordination/2007/carareport.pdf

If you look on page 14, there is a table entitled “Encouragement to Consider Priesthood” and it says: “Responding ordinands report that they were encouraged to consider the priesthood by a variety of people. They were most likely to say they were encouraged by a priest.”

Page 18 talks about vocational advertising and says: "“Ordinands were also asked to indicate if various forms of vocational advertising may have influenced their discernment. Relatively few ordinands report that any of these influenced their discernment.”

There are some good advertisements, like the downloadable “Fishers of Men” video, but the bottom line is:
The BEST “walking billboards” are happy and orthodox priests and religious who ASK young people to CONSIDER a vocation.
 
[SIGN]Good guys do wear black[/SIGN]

[SIGN]Yes, you will get to fight evil. No, you don’t get to wear a cape.[/SIGN]
That was an interesting campaign.

What Tim is referring to was a Chicago project which did precisely what is being suggested on this thread. There were billboards, print ads, posters, flyers. I’m not sure what the success rate of attracting vocations was, but it certainly got attention and raised awareness.

That said, one priest who I highly respect actually did not like this approach, feeling that it somehow minimized the nature of the call.
 
Billboards are too expensive and too indiscriminate to be useful in promoting vocations. There are a lot of ads out there in vocational literature like Vision magazine, which is distributed widely.

Not everyone approved of Vision magazine because it includes ads from orders that they might not support–‘modern’ communities which don’t wear habits, for example.

This sort of prejudice only works against vocations.

Priests will promote vocations when they have the time and feel that it is truly worthwhile and they are glad that they did it. The fact that so few priests promote their calling suggests to me that they are ambivalent about their jobs. It’s as simple as that.

When I’m working around young people in my line of work, I always encourage them to consider entering my particular field, because I have found it to be very satisfying.

Priests can do this, too, if they want to.
 
I was part of a concerted effort in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to promote vocations about 12 years ago. It takes the diocesan vocations director coordinating an effort, along with a rep from each parish, other priests, and vocations directors from the religious communities located in the diocese to pull ideas together, and start supporting each other.

There is a booklet available from Conception Abbey in MO dealing with Parish Vocations Committees. This is what’s needed–not gimmicks. In our parish alone, we sent 10 young men to a diocesan priesthood discernment retreat, but that was because one of our committee members called each young man in the parish (for Msgr, that is) and extended the invitation. We ended up having the largest group from any one parish.

You gotta have a plan. Anything else is fantasy.

HTH.

Blessings,
Cloisters
 
1234 said: "Not everyone approved of Vision magazine because it includes ads from orders that they might not support–‘modern’ communities which don’t wear habits, for example.

This sort of prejudice only works against vocations."

I beg to differ. We have eyewitness reports of convents participating in neo-pagan activities/rituals. One discerner I know is a former Dianic priestess, and she said many of the “Modern” convents she has visited are dabbling in neo-paganism. So, yes, discerners, beware.

Blessings,
Cloisters
 
I was sitting in Mass this weekend praying for vocations and something struck me. Why do we not advertise more for vocations? I don’t mean mentioning the need for vocations at Mass, I mean actually ADVERTISING the benefits and other positive outcomes of choosing religious life on the radio, on TV, on billboards, etc.

The closest thing I could compare it to is how the U.S. military advertises military careers. Maybe if the priesthood didn’t seem like something young men chose in the olden days and if our young men saw what was in it for them, more would be making the choice to hear God’s call.

Obviously, God has to call men to the priesthood. I don’t think He’s calling fewer men, but I do think less men are hearing Him. Maybe the Church needs to hit them with another source of messages.
These are an order of Brothers in the medical field but the ads are very well done (by folks who did Super Bowl Ads).

youtube.com/watch?v=YTPIiFI23wo
 
We have a visiting priest from Africa who oozes joy in his vocation. He’s a wonderful homilist and great in confession.

We also have a deacon/ seminarian who deals really well with our middle and high school age kids. They like him and want to be around him.

I think no matter the age of the priest or seminarian, if they are joyful and young people can see that, it’s the best advertising possible.
 
Just thought I’d bump this up.

Also, I think that more advertising of vocations should be done as well. Unfortunately, advertising of vocations does cost money and many dioceses are short on money.
 
There’s a poll on phatmass.com re best ways to advertise. I think that you can view the poll (but not vote) without being a member.

I think that the most popular current method is thru videos on YouTube and such. And blogs.

After that websites, with newsletters, “What’s New” with frequent updates, LOTS OF PICTURES, vocation stories, “Come and See” weekends, which probably involve a lot of work.

Not sure about Vision Magazine–depends on how much it costs–the orders can buy prepaid postcards in front, but I’m sure these are very expensive.

Last is the printed word, ie fancy slick, color brochures.

I think that it’s wisest to ask ALL inquirers HOW they heard about the order and go from there. Then keep track of how they learned from those that pursue it. It’ll become clear soon enough.

But I think that amateur videos are cheap and posting on YouTube is free–I think.
 
My college newspaper actually ran a paid vocations advertisement for the salesians the last two issues.
 
My 15 year old son saw the “Matrix” or “Men in Black” (or whatever it is!) poster at a Catholic youth rally and thought it was “cool.” He took one home and it’s now hanging on his bedroom wall.

I’d say that poster is effective.
 
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