On the fourth Sunday of Easter, this year falling on April 21, the Church celebrates Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Sunday’s Gospel reading will include one of Jesus’ seven “I Am” statements: 

“Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”

John 10:11-18

All vocations are first a response to God, who chose us and called us for the service of His people — whether as a priest of Jesus Christ or as a religious. Following the example of Christ, one listened, said ‘Yes’ to God the Father, and accepted to do God’s will even with sacrifice. Although every vocation calls for great sacrifice it comes as well with an outpouring of grace sufficient to answer that call as well.

Answering the Shepherd’s Call

When a man is ordained, he must first remember that this vocation is not for himself, not for honor and privilege, but for the service of God and his people. As a priest, one is configured to Christ and is called to conform one’s life to the life of Christ—chosen from among God’s people, now one for God’s people.

Priesthood is not, first and foremost, something we do, but someone we are. In Pastores Dabo Vobis, St. John Paul II told us: “The priest must be a man of God, the one who belongs exclusively to God and inspires people to think of God. So, the priest must have a deep intimacy with Jesus.” And in order to be a man of God, he must be a man of prayer, of meditation on God’s word, of contemplation before God’s wonderful deeds and his presence in the Mystery of the Eucharist, always keeping his eyes on Jesus. 

We do all for Him and in memory of Him. As Pope Francis wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation, Galdete et Exultate, “Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. How will you then be able to set the hearts of others on fire by your words and witness?” 

Answering God’s call takes courage, faith, and prayer. Pope Saint John Paul II reminded us that everyone has a vocation to discern, “Jesus has a specific task in life for each and every one of us. Each one of us is hand-picked, called by name by Jesus! There is no one among us who does not have a divine vocation! Some are called audibly by God, but the usual kind of call is internal, through the inner working of the Spirit.”  I would add we also have a responsibility to our Church to pray for each other, especially our current shepherds—the priests serving in our Diocese and the ones who have been a blessing to us personally.

The Fall River Diocese is blessed by the efforts of the Office of Vocations, which has done tremendous work over the years and continues under the current direction of Fr. Jack Schrader and Fr. John Garabedian. This includes a recent creative initiative to promote priestly vocations in our parishes and schools with vocation baseball cards. Our priests are also beneficiaries of the prayers and work of the Office of Clergy Support, directed by Matthew Robinson.

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

This Sunday is a beautiful opportunity to come together and ask the Lord to increase vocations in our Church and to bring forth more faithful laborers to the vineyard in our Diocese and the world.

The purpose of World Day of Prayer for Vocations is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction to, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2). As a climax to a prayer that is continually offered throughout the Church, it affirms the primacy of faith and grace in all that concerns vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life.  While appreciating all vocations, the Church concentrates its attention this day on vocations to the ordained ministries (priesthood and diaconate), consecrated life in all its forms (male and female religious life, societies of apostolic life, consecrated virginity, secular institutes), and to the missionary life.


WorldDayofPrayerforVocations.com offers a variety of prayers, available free to download, for you to use and share with your parish, school, or family. Parishes can also find Prayers of the Faithful to include in this Sunday’s Mass.

Adoration and Vocations

As we continue this three-year National Eucharistic Revival, I would be remiss not to include a few words about the connection between spending time in Eucharistic Adoration and the discernment of one’s vocation. I feel confident that if you asked any priest, they could recount at least one encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, which led to their accepting God’s call to the priesthood. 

I always find consolation in spending time in Adoration before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When I was in the Novitiate and in the Seminary, one of the things I enjoyed doing before going to bed at night was visiting the chapel and spending time with Jesus. And I still love doing this to this day. 

As Catholics, we believe the Eucharist to truly be the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. We heard recently the Gospel story of what transpired in Emmaus, how Jesus made himself known in the breaking of the bread. The Resurrected Jesus disappears from their sight, but what remains, who remains, is our experience of the Real Presence of Jesus today—in the Eucharist! Time spent with the Lord outside of the Mass in Eucharist Adoration can bring you peace, a great understanding of your faith, and the silence to hear His voice. I encourage you to remain after Mass to pray before the Tabernacle or locate an Adoration chapel to spend time with the Eucharistic Jesus.

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Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha

O Reverendíssimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
O Reverendíssimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Bishop of Fall River