To Solve the Vocations Crisis {Serviam}


Every Catholic knows there is a vocations crisis. We see how few laborers there are in the vineyard and we thirst for the guidance and fatherhood of those missing shepherds. I do believe the solution is in the palm of our hands but that we have just gotten lazy in our speech, in our efforts, and in our prayers... and that perhaps we have lost site of what vocation even means. As a consequence, we have also lost sight of the solution to the crisis.

We think it's about...

Worldly appeal of the Gospel message.
Praying harder.
Better pizza at youth group.
Married priests.

... And we're wrong.

One of the consequences of our collective forgetfulness is that the discerning man or woman is left to wander. They have not forgotten what vocation really means... they simply have never been taught. They have also not been taught the fundamental importance of healthy human formation. In other words, we get good priests by raising good men... but we are neglecting the foundation of what it means to be a good man.

The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father’s only Son.
— Catechism of the Catholic church, 1877


The truth is that there is only ONE primary vocation for all of humanity. And that is HOLINESS. There isn't a soul alive that is not called first and foremost to this most noble vocation. 

It is the secondary (or particular) vocation which is considered to be in crisis. This is the one we fret over and focus on. People generally mean the priesthood when they say "Pray for vocations," but there are several secondary vocations: Holy Orders (priesthood), Consecrated Religious Life, Generous Single Life, and Holy Marriage. But if these are in crisis (and arguably, they all are), it is only because HOLINESS is in crisis. 

The young man raises his arms to heaven and cries:
Lord! What is it you want me to do with my life?? 

And God answers:
Love and Serve. Take up your cross and follow me.

The young man thinks that the magic pill for holiness will come through his secondary vocation but he has it backwards. And so does his community. 

Pray for vocations! we shout. But we are forgetting - or maybe we were just never taught - that vocation of any kind doesn't start with some Catholic pixie dust that falls down from heaven when we pray "for vocations" ....

Vocation begins in the heart of Christ. 

The closer a person draws to the Sacred Heart, the closer he or she draws to the very purpose of their life: Holiness. And then to the particular work for which they have been made. We should be praying unceasingly for these things and we must have prayer in order to draw close to Christ. And it is in that prayer that the courage to do the work begins. 

"You should be a priest, young man!" 

Perhaps... but first, he should recklessly pursue sanctity.  Then when someone asks him what he is going to do with his life - where he thinks God is calling him - he will answer: SERVIAM! {I will serve.} When the mind, body, and soul of a man are formed to listen and follow the will of God in all things, he will hear his specific call and he will answer. 

The Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.
— St. John Vianney


In the Fall, my firstborn will leave home to enter college seminary and begin the next stage of his discernment process. As many times as people say "Oh! You are going to be a priest!" he must answer...

No... I am going to study and grow so that I may know if God is truly calling me to be a priest. 

He knows that he has a long way to go in that discernment process and it is with great joy that he has found a seminary at which he believes his mind, body, and soul will be well-formed and oriented more fully toward the heart of Jesus Christ. Whether he is ultimately called to be ordained or to enter the married or single life, his healthy formation as a man will be paramount. If it is truly successful, regardless of what his particular vocation may be, he will be prepared to raise the cry of the Christian soldier...

SERVIAM! {I will serve}

In the Gospel of Matthew {20:26}, the apostles were disputing about their place in the Kingdom of God. Jesus replied:

"... You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; 28 even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

My son's journey is a new beginning in some ways. In other ways, it is only a continuation of what it means to be formed as a man. To be healthy in mind, body, and soul. To strive in love. To seek the heart of Christ. To serve. 


One of the practical realities of the next step is, of course, the question of finances. As he leaves home, his eighth sibling will only just have been born! The family continues to stretch and to grow and the bills do pile up. After the generosity of the diocese and others and digging deep at home, needs still remain. But there is grace, there is faith, there is the working hard, and there is the entrustment of the unknown to the generosity of the people of God. 

My son has earned academics scholarships at other institutions but has passed them up in order to follow where he thinks God is leading. If it is God's holy will, it will be provided for. That's all we've got. And we believe it will be sufficient.

With all that in mind, we've put together a simple t-shirt with which to witness to and celebrate the vocational call of every soul and to fundraise for direct tuition needs. Regardless of our secondary vocation, whether we are male or female, young or old...  we are all to cry out with one voice:


I will serve. 


  • The shirt is designed with the colors of the priestly garments but can be worn by male or female alike as a sign of support for our priests and also our shared primary vocation of holiness. 
  • Black is a sign that one has died to the world... a spiritual poverty. 
  • The white letters (symbolic of the Roman collar) are a sign of fidelity and also of the hope of the resurrection. 
  • The simple word SERVIAM and the words of our Lord in Matthew 20:26 are a witness to our universal vocation to holiness. 
  • The shirt is designed by Catholic Threads and printed on their most popular, super soft tees.
  • Sizes are available in XS to 2XL
  • Pre-orders will be taken immediately and the first shipments will go out as soon as we hit our minimum. We will continue taking orders here as long as people continue to buy them. I will place a direct link in the sidebar.
  • The more you spread the word, the faster you will get your shirts! ;)




So much gratitude goes to the good people at Catholic Threads for designing and producing this shirt for us! It has been a joy to work with them and I highly recommend their other products to you! But first... I'd love it if you would pre-order one (or more) of ours and please spread the word. 

For anyone interested in knowing more about our specific needs or in donating directly, you are welcome to contact us via email or use the DONATE button at the bottom of this post. Thank you!

Serviam T-Shirt (Pre-order)
Add to Cart

Don't want a t-shirt but still want to donate? 

Donate Here

Posted on April 19, 2016 and filed under Family Life, vocations.