What to do if you have no stellar leader or founder

I often think about the disparity between two types of religious communities that we see today. One type is growing with young, zealous recruits. They are featured in the Catholic media. Everyone flocks to them. For these communities, how to grow Catholic vocations seems second nature.

The other type just struggles along. Their members are getting older. There are no new vocations.

And yes, they are living a life faithful to authentic religious life. They wear the habit, live the common life, and pray together. They have an undivided heart – devoted to Christ and his Church.

And yet the telephone never rings.

What can the second type of community do?


The Nashville Dominicans don’t struggle with vocations.

So, your community’s founder did not have the intellectual depth of a St. Ignatius Loyola? The perseverance of St. Teresa of Calcutta? Or even the juggling ability of St. John Bosco?

No? Yet all is not lost.

Three steps to grow Catholic vocations

It is said that the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George recognized this. So they stormed heaven, begging God to send them vocations. And the vocations came.

Yes, it starts with prayer. But are there natural virtues that need to go along with this?

This is the question we here at Vocation Promotion ponder a lot about. It’s your responsibility to storm heaven for vocations. We at Vocation Promotion are experts at finding and attracting good vocations to your community.

I’ve come up with three robust action points of a good vocational program. Study them carefully.

  1. Educate yourself. Know what religious and consecrated life is all about. Read Perfectae Caritatis, Verbi Sponsa, and Vita Consecrata. Study also the whole puzzle of discernment. Read the master, St. Ignatius of Loyola. Also read contemporary authors, such as Fr. Timothy M. Gallager, OMV. Study the lives of leaders, such as Mother Angelica and EWTN. Check out our own list of consecrated life experts.
  2. Get the cooperation of others. It’s important to get your community members on board. Your effort as vocation director can be supported by others. Ask two or three persons to form a vocations advisory board. You can meet once a month to discuss how things are going. They can be asked to do some homework and decide what to do.
  3. Work hard. Very hard. But work smart. The great religious leaders put in much time in their efforts. But putting in 1,000 hours a week isn’t right either. St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, worked so much that his doctor demanded that he get eight hours of sleep. So there is a limit. Therefore, you must stay focused on what’s important.

I might add that getting the help of professionals in the area of vocation promotion is important, too. We recommend our own Come & See Vocation Promotion Program. Start by getting our free ebook, “How to Attract Vocations Using Social Media.” When you get this ebook, you will also start receiving our newsletter for vocation directors.

Keep focused, and you’ll find that you are able to grow Catholic vocations.

Here are some resources that will be helpful to people in the discernment process:

  1. Discerning Religious Life, by Sr. Clare Matthiass
  2. To Save a Thousands Souls, by Fr. Brett Brannen