By Becky Berreth
“The family is the first seminary,” said Fr. James Mason. “It’s a seedbed of vocations. Your first call is to be a beloved child of God through baptism.”
“Children are born seeking love and goodness,” agreed Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP. “When the people through whom God gave them their own distinctive life, witness to them the virtues of unconditional love and untiring goodness, a child grows up with a holy confidence in God and in self. Through the virtues, he/she learns self knowledge and is able, through prayer, to determine one’s vocation.”
Pastoral Ministry Days is March 18-20, at Terra Sancta. This year’s conference, “Harvest,” has a focus on “creating a vibrant culture of vocations in our parishes.” Keynote speakers are Fr. Mason, president and rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, Shrewsbury, Mo., and Sr. Bogdanowicz, OP, vocation director of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Ann Arbor, Mich.
The conference officially begins on Monday morning, March 19, and ends the afternoon of March 20. There is also a Holy Hour and hospitality on Sunday evening, March 18, along with an opportunity for early check-in.
Fr. Mark McCormick, diocesan director of vocations, said the theme for this year’s conference came from the Diocesan Priority Plan. “It says that parishes are encouraged to have a vocations committee to build up the culture of vocations. It’s about building that culture in our diocese and in our parishes — beginning with the family. Moms and dads talking to their children saying God has a plan for you.
“We want to answer the question, what does it mean to build a culture of vocations in our own lives — personal, family, parishes, diocese — so that when a young person grows up, praying for their vocation isn’t something foreign to them it’s something done as a family.”
According to Fr. Mason, vocations are more than being called to the priesthood or religious life. “When we are talking about vocations we are talking about a call to holiness,” he explained. This isn’t primarily about priests and religious. It’s about holiness. We are talking about evangelization and the vocations will naturally come out of that. We live a priestly life and invited them into it. We didn’t have a program.”
“Our faith is a constant,” added Sr. Bogdanowicz. “Knowing this, parents need to begin imparting the beauty of the faith to the children while even in the womb by praying aloud for these little ones. … All the prayers and efforts will lead to an increase of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual graces that will strengthen the church in the world today, beginning with the parents and families at this conference.”
“I invite you to come and lend your heart to what the speakers have to say,” said Fr. McCormick. “We want to create this culture where everyone growing up knows that God has a plan, a purpose to their lives.”
Online registration, the flyer, and a schedule can be found at
Everyone is encouraged to register online, if possible, for purposes of accuracy of materials. Cost is $75. If you are unable to register online, you can also register by calling the Terra Sancta Retreat Center at 605-716-0925, and staff can register you over the phone. Contact Susan Thompson email@example.com or Susan Safford firstname.lastname@example.org at 605-716-5214 if you have questions.