Parish loans chalice to help families pray for vocations - Catholic Courier
A chalice and a statue of the Holy Family are on a table.

The Vocations Chalice from St. Louis Church in Pittsford is seen inside the home of Rebecca Mitrousis, who received the chalice on Christmas Eve in 2022. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Mitrousis)

Parish loans chalice to help families pray for vocations

There is a conspicuously bare space on a small table in the center of Mary Therese and Kent Friel’s Mendon home. This empty space is linked in the Friels’ hearts with their fervent prayer for Catholic seminaries to be filled.

For two months last summer, that space was home to a chalice the couple borrowed from St. Louis Parish in Pittsford. While the chalice was in their home, the Friels spent time near it each day, praying together for an increase in vocations to religious life.

“There wasn’t a time during the day or night that we didn’t pass it and say a prayer. It became a part of daily life,” Mary Therese Friel said.

The Friels returned the chalice to St. Louis in early September, yet they have kept its place on their table clear, “so that our thoughts and prayers can continually pass through that space and straight to our Lord’s ears,” according to Mary Therese Friel.

Chalice initiative encourages Catholics to pray for religious vocations

The Friels are among the many families that have hosted the St. Louis Vocations Chalice since the Pittsford parish launched the initiative in November 2022 with the goal of inspiring parishioners to pray for an increase in religious vocations. Based on testimony like that of the Friels, the initiative has been successful so far, according to Rebecca Mitrousis, pastoral associate at St. Louis.

Last year, Mitrousis told her pastor, Father Mitch Zygadlo, about the Chalice Program promoted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This program is based on a similar initiative created years ago by a Catholic organization in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and in both cases, parishioners take consecrated chalices into their homes for short periods of time. During this time, families pray for an increase in vocations to religious life as well as the perseverance of those already pursuing or living out such vocations.

Mitrousis had encountered the program several years ago when she lived in Dallas, and she kept it in mind after moving to New York. She began working at St. Louis in 2020 and thought the initiative would be a good fit at her parish.

“We hear so many calls for prayers for vocations and prayers to encourage young people to consider vocations,” Mitrousis explained. “We hear about parishes being consolidated or combined, and one of the main reasons is the lack of vocations. I think the more we can have these conversations … people might be open to hearing the call of God in their hearts.”

Program utilizes donated chalices, helps families pray

After getting the green light from Father Zygadlo, Mitrousis began putting together a binder filled with resources for parishioners who host the vocations chalice. This binder includes a brief explanation of the program, suggested daily prayers for families to use while they pray near the chalice and pages where families are encouraged to write their reflections about the experience.

The binder also includes an illustrated guide to setting up the chalice and the included linens — the corporal, purificator, paten and pall — in a safe place where it will be visible to the entire family yet safe from being accidentally knocked over. The binder also illustrates how the chalice should be packed back into its travel case at the conclusion of its visit.

There actually are two chalices that are currently being used for the Vocations Chalice initiative, Mitrousis said. Both had been donated to St. Louis by parishioners when the parish regularly offered Communion under both forms, but for the last several years, the parish has not offered the sacrament from the cup at weekend liturgies, she said. And having two chalices means two families can host chalices at the same time, Mitrousis added.

Families hosting chalices in their homes feel God’s presence

The Mitrousis family hosted one of the vocations chalices last December. Even though Mitrousis had spent hours preparing the materials for the program, she was surprised by the effect the chalice’s presence had in her home.

“There’s just something powerful about having a chalice in the home, that has held the body and blood of Jesus in it,” she remarked. “I think it brings peace, and it makes God feel more present in your home.”

The chalice was like “a ray of sunshine” in their home, Mary Therese Friel said, noting that she felt uplifted every time she walked by it. The Friels had at first been intimidated by the prospect of hosting the chalice in their home, which felt like a “weighty” responsibility, she said. They came to realize, however, that bringing the chalice into their home was a simple way for them to do their part to promote religious vocations.

“It takes nothing but an open heart to take this into your home and find a little room where you can go and sit and be quiet and think and pray. It doesn’t take up your whole day,” Mary Therese Friel said.

“There isn’t anybody that can’t do it,” Kent Friel added.

Tags: Faith in Action, Holy Orders, Monroe County East, Priests, USCCB
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