Father Stephen Ogonwa, parochial administrator of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Candler, prays for vocations in the office chapel. Many parishes request the kneelers to celebrate priest jubilees and anniversaries.
ORLANDO | We kneel before the Lord in gratitude, in supplication, in reverence. More than 20 parishes in the Diocese of Orlando are doing just that with a kneeler dedicated to praying for vocations.
The kneeler was donated to the Vocations Office by Father Tim Daly, former rector of the Basilica of St. Paul in Daytona Beach. The idea for it to travel throughout the diocese belongs to St. James Cathedral Rector Father Miguel González. So, in January 2022, the Vocations Office officially sent the kneeler “on pilgrimage to visit the holy sites of our diocese”.
Most recently, the kneeler spent one week at Bishop Moore Catholic High School’s Chapel in Orlando, in time for Adoration Friday, which takes place the first Friday of every month.
“We thought it would be great to have during Holy Hour and to promote vocations at Bishop Moore as well,” said Father Roberto Marquez, St. Charles Borromeo Parish and School’s parochial administrator who also serves Bishop Moore, and Morning Star Catholic Schools.
He said St. Charles Borromeo Parish also enjoyed the kneeler in February during Lent to help kick off “Mercy Fridays” that included Adoration and several hours for confession.
He said the parish is committed to praying for vocations after every weekday Mass and the Prayer for Vocations is said whenever the schools — St. Charles, Bishop Moore and Morning Star — celebrate Mass each week. “Having the kneeler represents our commitment to vocations,” he said.
He noted the kneeler is important to the parish culture. “Many vocations have come from this parish and many seminarians have come here as well, either during their pastoral year or their summers. So, there’s a very close-knit connection with the community and vocations.”
Those who received the kneeler early in its pilgrimage may notice some changes. A generous craftsman offered his gifts to restore the finish, reupholster the kneeler and engrave “Pray for vocations” on the arm rest. He and his family used the opportunity to spend evenings praying on the kneeler... offering many rosaries and hours of prayer for vocations.
Sister Gianna Grace Perino, associate vocations director for her order — Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary — called to mind Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in Jn 17: “He prays for all of us – and in a special way, Jesus prays for the ones He is calling to His heart: ‘I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us. … Father, they are your gift to me. I desire that where I am, they also may be with me … that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.’”
“As Christians and faithful Catholics, we follow Christ, we look to Sacred Scripture and watch Him, listen to Him, and imitate Him in all things. Jesus was constantly going, traveling to places set apart to pray,” Sister Perino said. “We should do the same — to entrust, consecrate, and seal everything in and through Christ. The beauty of a pilgrimage is that we make an effort to go and pray, to offer something more, to have a time of encounter in a place of prayer for a special reason – the life and future of the Church.”
“What a beautiful initiative to bend our knees before God as we pray for young men and women of our parish, to say yes to discerning the priesthood and religious life,” said seminarian John Triolo who serves St. Paul Parish in Leesburg. “May they be the burning candles of light and love that radiate our Church for years to come.”
The Vocations Kneeler Pilgrimage is perpetual and open to travel to any parish community or school that desires to offer the special opportunity of prayer for vocations. Please contact Sister Gianna Grace Perino, SCTJM in the Office of Vocations for more information. email@example.com
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