Home Our Diocese Vocations team hits the road to meet with sixth-graders around Diocese...

Vocations team hits the road to meet with sixth-graders around Diocese of Wilmington — National Vocations Awareness Week

Father Richard Jasper at Vocations Day on Nov. 6, 2019. Photo for The Dialog/Kathryn Mancuso

The coronavirus has put a dent in the normal activities of the diocesan Office for Vocations, but the work of talking about God’s plan for people does not stop. The office has adapted its plans to reach out to sixth-graders in Catholic schools in Delaware and on the Eastern Shore.

Father Richard Jasper, the associate director of the office, said the larger gathering, which has taken place at Holy Cross Church in Dover in recent years, was not possible because of the need for distancing, among other COVID protocols, and the prohibitive cost of renting buses.

Instead, Father Jasper and Dan Pin, the associate director of the Office for Catholic Youth, Young Adults and Family Ministry, will be hitting the road to meet with students at individual schools.

The diocesan tour begins Nov. 8 at Good Shepherd School in Perryville, Md., and continues Nov. 10 at St. John the Beloved School in Wilmington. Invitations have been extended to every grade school in the diocese.

The big rallies at Holy Cross were filled with group events such as games of “Simon Says” and “Jeopardy!” The school visits will look a bit different.

“This year, it will be more personal conversation where both Dan and I will talk not mostly about the priestly vocation – although that’s important – but what a vocation is and the truth that we’re all called to holiness,” Father Jasper said.

That can be through marriage, religious life or single life, he explained. In that call to holiness, vocation is how God calls us to live.

In some of the schools that have religious sisters on staff, either at the school or parish, they will try to get them involved. At other schools that were once staffed by a religious order, Father Jasper and Pin might invite a member of that congregation to join them.

“It really is more of an opportunity for us to come in, talk about what vocation is, remind the kids that God has a plan for their lives. We want them to be witnesses to the Good News,” he said.

Some of the energy that comes from having all of the diocese’s sixth-graders together might be missing, but there are opportunities for a more intimate exchange that is not always possible. Father Jasper said each of the schools has been asked to have their students write out questions in advance to give more time for dialogue once he and Pin get there.

Last year, when the event was canceled because of COVID, Holy Cross School reached out to Father Jasper to ask him to come speak to its students.

“It really was a good opportunity for the kids to explore what is vocation, and their faith,” he said. “In some ways, it kind of is a new opportunity to have that conversation with a priest.”

For Father Jasper, it is a chance to see the few schools he has not been inside. Those include Most Blessed Sacrament in Berlin, Md., and Ss. Peter and Paul in Easton, Md., in addition to Good Shepherd. He and Pin would be happy to have the pastors and associates of the sponsoring parishes join them, as well as any religious who may work at a parish or school.

Another event on the radar of the Office for Vocations is “Come and See” for high school students to meet with priests and seminarians.