St Mary Magdalen clergy are always available to encourage persons who are reviewing their choices in life to speak to one of the parish  priests here at St Mary Magdalen. Another option is to go to the Diocesan Vocation Office and speak to Fr. Joshua Swallows @ 407-768-3113, The  Diocesan Vocations web site is St Mary Magdalen Parish prays continually for vocations in the daily and Sunday Mass intentions.  In the school where all of the parish priests visit  the class room frequently and by participating in Focus 11 each year. 

Vocation Cup

An active way to participate in praying for Vocations is the Vocation Cup. Each week at a different Sunday Mass, a host family is invited to take the Vocation Cup home and pray for Vocations during the day. A DVD is included in the Vocation Cup Container titled ”Fishers of Men”  which tells the stories of those who have chosen a religious vocation. Prayers and other material are also in the container. The family is invited to write the events of the week in a  reflection book and tell how hosting the Vocation Cup affected  their family.  To be a host for the Vocation Cup please call Rosalie and Andy Winkelman @407-696-8923 or @email - During the school year, the Vocation Cup is given to a different class each Wednesday at the Weekly School Mass. The same items are available for the teacher in the class to help the children to become aware of the option of become a priest or a religious.

Article about Vocations


Chicago, Aug. 11, 2009—The demographic composition and preferred lifestyle of religious communities in the U.S. are undergoing dramatic changes according to a first-of-its-kind survey of newer members.

The landmark “Study of Recent Vocations to Religious Life” was undertaken by the Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a Georgetown University-based research center, on behalf of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC), a professional association of religious vocation directors, based in Chicago. The study sought to determine best practices for religious institutes in attracting and retaining new members.

 Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC), applauded the findings.

“People of all ages and walks of life continue to be called to religious life, which is changing with the times,” he said. “The Church and the world need women and men religious. Their witness has been the impetus for social change and spiritual renewal throughout history.

“Now a new generation of religious men and women show a renewed appreciation of our Catholic worship, identity, and communal living. Their witness remains a vital part of the life of the Church.”

Mercy Sister Mary Bendyna, executive director of CARA and principal author of the study, called the men and women religious who participated “a sign of hope for religious life and the Church.

“They face many challenges and are making a choice that family and friends don’t understand,” she said, “but they are embracing their call with faith and enthusiasm.”

Growing diversity

The new members’ total is likely higher than the 4,000 surveyed, as some religious institutes did not respond. The study’s findings, which did not include diocesan priesthood, show an increased diversity in ethnicity, age, and life experiences among new members.

Among those in training:

  • 21 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander, and 6 percent are African/African American, which is a shift from 94 percent white among finally professed
  • 43 percent are under 30

Among all new members:

  • 70 percent enter with a bachelor’s degree and nine in ten held full-time jobs
  • 7 percent have been married and 5 percent have children
  • 73 percent attended Catholic schools for at least part of their education
  • 68 percent considered religious life before age 21

Overall, religious are an aging population. Most communities report diminishing numbers, yet some attract new members and a few are experiencing significant growth. Men’s communities and women’s communities following more traditional practices have better success attracting younger members today.

Spirit attracts

Approximately 75 percent are drawn to religious life very much by a sense of call and desire for prayer and spiritual growth. An overwhelming 85 percent say what attracted them to a community was its members, citing their sense of joy, commitment, and zeal.

Beyond the example of professed members, the most significant draw for new members is community life and prayer.

  • Most new members want to live, work, and pray with other members of their community.
  • Younger new entrants look for an institute’s fidelity to the church; older new entrants are drawn to its mission.
  • New entrants prefer to live in large communities (8 or more). Institutes in which members live alone face challenges attracting new members.
  • Many younger members seek to wear a religious habit, a practice that has diminished in most religious institutes in the past 40 years.
If you build it, they will come

Many younger members report not having known men and women religious when they first felt drawn toward that life. Some report relying on a friend or mentor for recommendations. Younger members made use of online vocational resources, including community Websites.

Effective strategies for attracting and retaining new members include programs and promotions, such as “Come and See” weekends, in which those discerning a vocation can spend time with community members; retreats; ministry experiences; and an engaging online presence. Having a full-time vocation director or vocation team and leaders who involve the entire community in promoting vocations also helps.

Hope in the future

Religious institutes acknowledge the challenges of diminishing numbers, generational differences, and diversified ministries. New members express hope in the future of religious life. One study participant said religious life “has been here a long time, and it will continue in whatever shape that God wants it to be.” Another said: “Community life--if it’s lived well, if it’s joy-filled--attracts people.”

The study is available at