CHILI — "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38).
Earlier this fall, St. Pius Tenth Church’s parish council reflected on this Gospel passage as they considered starting a program to pray for and promote vocations in the Diocese of Rochester, explained Julia Lisuzzo, the council’s vice chairperson.
"We prayed hard on that at parish council and decided that yes indeed, it was good for the whole parish to undertake this program," she said.
Thus, the yearlong Traveling Chalice program began the first weekend of Advent, explained Lisuzzo, who is coordinating the program. Sister Jean Catherine Welch, the parish’s volunteer coordinator, also will help oversee the program when she recovers from surgery, Lisuzzo noted.
Members of the Brown family sit down to share a meal Nov. 27 after praying for vocations as part of St. Pius Tenth Parish’s Traveling Chalice program.
The program originated in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Ga., according to information from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (http://bit.ly/2ghbg9o). The consecrated chalice is a tangible reminder of the special intention to pray for and support vocations, a responsibility of the laity highlighted by the Second Vatican Council, according to the USCCB. The call for prayers also was affirmed in the writings and addresses of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
Using a chalice for this program also is a special reminder of priestly ordination, noted Lisuzzo.
"A priest is given a chalice on the day he is ordained … which symbolizes (his) commitment and love of Jesus," she said. "It’s just a very special part of their ordination process."
Father Paul Bonacci, St. Pius’ parochial administrator, said he presented the Traveling Chalice idea to the parish council because of the program’s success at Schuyler Catholic Community, where he had served before coming to St. Pius in 2014. He first heard of the program during a vocations training meeting years ago, he added.
Once the parish council decided to move forward with the program, Lisuzzo informed parishioners about it during several weekend Masses leading up to the start of Advent. More than 10 families signed up before the program even kicked off, she said.
Each family who signed up will receive the designated chalice during Mass and bring it home with them for a week. They will decide when and how they will pray together, Lisuzzo said. The families are asked to place the chalice they receive in a place of prominence, such as a mantel over a fireplace or on the dining room table, she added.
The Brown family was the first family to register and, therefore, the first family to take home the chalice. They decided to place the chalice in their kitchen table.
"It is the center of our household, where our family is always together," Tracy Brown told the Catholic Courier Nov. 23.
Brown, who heard about the program at Mass in November, said she and her husband, Kevin, and four children would most likely pray at dinner or breakfast. Her children range in age from 17 to 11.
With her children having two uncles as priests, the idea of entering religious life has been discussed in her family. So bringing the chalice home to pray for vocations seemed like a "neat idea," she remarked.
"What appealed to me about it (the program) was having a physical object as a reminder to pray for an increase in vocations," Brown noted. "And it is something … (we are) able to do as a family."
In addition to the chalice, families also will bring home a binder prepared by Lisuzzo that contains an introduction to the program and suggested prayers. It also contains some letters from Schuyler Catholic Community parishioners, who describe undertaking the project when Father Paul Bonacci was their pastor, Lisuzzo said.
"We want to make it easy for the families, especially busy families," Lisuzzo said of the program. "Each family decides when to pray individually. … But they commit to praying for vocations every day."