HAZLETON – The 60th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations was marked in grand style this year with a special Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, at Queen of Heaven Parish.

Young people from parishes around the Diocese of Scranton attended the Mass and served in various liturgical roles.

“It was a special day because it was the first time I got to lector,” Joseph Tranguch of Hazleton said. “I was a little bit nervous but I did pretty good because the Holy Spirit led me!”

Matthew Sanchez, a youth group member from Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg, called the celebration “beautiful.”

The song, “Que Te Puedo Dar” played during the Presentation of the Gifts at the World Day of Prayer for Vocations Mass at Queen of Heaven Parish in Hazleton on April 29, 2023.

“I like how the choir was bilingual, both English and Spanish, and there were a lot of priests,” Sanchez explained. “Father Alex’s homily was really nice.”

Father Alex J. Roche, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians, served as homilist for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations Mass.

“Every vocation is important and vital in the life of the Church but sometimes we need to spend a little bit more time on explaining what the vocations to religious life, to the priesthood, to the diaconate are,” Father Roche said. “Explaining that they’re good and holy things and they will lead to fulfillment and happiness and like Saint Catherine of Siena says, ‘setting the world on fire.’”

The purpose of the 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.

“I think God is calling me personally to serve the Church in multiple ways. I think it’s being a leader in my hometown, being a leader at my local college and even being a leader in the church community that I’m a parishioner of,” Matthew Kelly, a parishioner of Saint Gregory Parish in Clarks Green, said. “He calls us, so importantly, to be disciples of the faith, to teach it to everybody around us and to bring people into the church because the whole mission of the church is to evangelize.”

In addition to the Mass in Hazleton, parishes around the Diocese of Scranton were asked to highlight the need for vocations and share vocation stories from pastors, religious education teachers, deacons and married couples.

“It is a day when, in every parish, we want people really reflecting on where God is calling them to be,” Father Roche said.