Three Ways to Encourage Vocations in the Elementary Classroom

When I was very small, I thought everyone had an uncle who was a priest. I had Uncle Fr. Paul and Uncle Fr. John. As I grew older, I realized just how lucky I was. As a teacher in the Catholic elementary classroom, I hope that my future students will have this same experience. Here is how I encourage vocations in my 3rd grade classroom.

I am blessed to have as my aide, a Religious Sister. Sr. Margaret Buchta is a Servant of Mary. When she was in 3rd grade, at Holy Name school, her teacher taught this prayer to her students.

Dear Angel ever at my side, 

how loving you must be. 

Please whisper to your loving child, 

What God wants me to be. Amen! 

We end every school day with this prayer.

I have a wonderful bulletin board, that stays up  over the year. It’s called “The Vocation Wall of Fame”. It’s filled with pictures of me with priests, sisters, and deacons. Many of these pictures I treasure. One picture is of my high school teacher, Sr. Ruth. She taught religion and the title of the class was The Electric Bible. What a hoot! I remember our classroom did not have any desks. We sat on the carpeted floor! Another picture is of me with Fr. Roderick Vonhogen, a priest in The Netherlands who has inspired me to use New Media. Another favorite is a picture with me and Fr. James Martin S.J who I met at the NCEA convention in Minneapolis, MN when he was a keynote speaker. I share a love for the Saints with Fr. Martin. I also have a picture with our parish’s priests, and deacons and of course, my aide. My husband and I are featured too. We attended a special ceremony for married couples at our Cathedral for our 25th wedding anniversary.

Vocation Wall of Fame

Vocation Wall of Fame

 

My ever growing gallery!

My ever growing gallery!

My final way to encourage vocations is by sending a letter of congratulations to those priests and sisters, of our Archdiocese that are celebrating Jubilees. This idea formed when my Uncle Fr. Paul, an archdiocesan priest from Omaha, celebrated his 50th Jubilee. His picture and short article, along with his fellow Jubilarians were featured in our local Archdiocesan paper, The Catholic Voice.

Priest Jubilees were big events in my family. When Uncle Fr. Paul Begley, my father’s oldest brother,  celebrated his 50th, I remember gathering, with all our relatives for a family dinner. He loved his prime rib and he loved to share that with his family. He knew family dinners were important, so every year for Christmas, he got all his brothers and sisters, a large cut of prime rib. He must have had some great connections with a butcher because that meat was the best!

Fr. Paul Begley celebrating his 25th Jubilee Mass with my cousin Sean as his server.

Fr. Paul Begley celebrating his 25th Jubilee Mass with my cousin Sean as his server.

 

Fr. John Kent Burzynski OFM, my mother’s oldest brother, celebrated his 25th Jubilee and we all gathered wearing our fashionable 1970 styles! The Maxi dress was sure the style in 1975.

Fr. John Kent Burzynski OFM, 25th Jubilee

Fr. John Kent Burzynski OFM, 25th Jubilee

 

A close up of the banner.

A close up of the banner.

 

So knowing that Jubilees are big events in the priests and sisters in our Archdiocese, I have my students use their very best cursive writing to send out a letter. I begin the activity by reading the biographies that The Catholic Voice provides of the priests and Sr. Margaret writes for her fellow Servites. This helps my students pick who they will write to. Hearing that a priest likes to fish or cheer on the Creighton Bluejays or that a sister loves to read and cheer on the Huskers really sticks with them. After we write the letter, we also add a picture. The best part is hearing back from them and so many times we do! I think my favorite response was when I got a phone call, after school was dismissed, from a Jesuit who taught at Creighton. He wanted to thank me for the beautiful letters and he gave a blessing, over the phone, to my students. Now that was special!

An example letter, we had to do a quick fix on the spelling of Archdiocese!

An example letter, we had to do a quick fix on the spelling of Archdiocese!

 

I hope these ideas will help you think of ways you can encourage vocations in your  Catholic classroom. Do you have a new idea to share? Please share in the comments!

 

 

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Comments

  1. This rings so true for me. My uncle is a priest and I was used to seeing priests and Franciscan brothers in and out of my family home and at family events. I love that the pastor at my son’s grade school frequently makes hints about vocations to the kids–not so subtly, either. Your bulletin board idea is wonderful.

    • Thanks, Barb! I know that vocations can begin young. Talking with several priests and sisters they say that 3rd grade was an important year for them!

  2. Your Uncle Steve says:

    What I remember is that someone built a chapel made out of sugar cubes and dressed an evil Kenevil doll in a church clothes.

  3. Jeannie F Bolstridge says:

    Hi, Barb, Thank you so much for all of your inspiring sharing. I wrote this comment three times and am finally getting the Disquis procedure right! I will master this technical stuff ! (Been blogging since 2005 and just not shared out to the social media! )
    May I please have your permission to share with our after-school students the prayer that is in this post?
    I was confirmed in the Catholic church Saturday and our live-in granddaughter was baptized. She immediately asked the Deacon after her Baptism when she could begin her Confirmation classes!
    Hope to “see” you during the next Catholic Ed Chat! Blessings to you and your family. Jeannie Bolstridge

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