WASHINGTON (March 13, 2006)—Fishers of Men, an 18-minute film which is a major resource in a new vocational fulfillment and recruitment project sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, will be premiered this week.
The project, Priestly Life and Vocation Summit: Fishers of Men, is intended to renew priests' sense of fulfillment in their vocation and to encourage them to draw on that satisfaction to invite other men to pursue the priesthood. The project was developed by the USCCB Committee on Vocations.
The film, produced by Grassroots Films of Brooklyn, NY, is a fast-paced video which shows many of the facets of a priest's daily life. Several priests provide testimony to the importance they place on their own vocation. A dramatic re-enactment portrays how a priest can inspire a vocation through his service to someone in need of priestly ministry.
The film is part of a process of encouraging priests to step back from their daily lives and to reflect on the many positive reasons why they pursued a vocation to the priesthood, to discuss those reasons with their brother priests, and ultimately to share them with other men to invite them to consider the priesthood.
The video is accompanied by questions for discussion among priests who view the film together at their diocesan vocation summit. One question asks, "Reflecting upon your own vocation and reasons for becoming a priest, are they similar to those presented in the film?" Another asks, "What part of the film do you think will most inspire young men in your parish to consider priesthood as a possible vocation?"
The film is also intended to be used by priests in discussions with men considering the priesthood. Discussion questions are provided for these conversations as well. One quotes a priest in the film who says, "The Catholic priesthood is an instrument for change that the world needs today" and asks, "How can the priest effect change in the world?"
Men who saw an advance screening of the film have praised it highly. "It appeals to the desire in every man to be a hero, to stand up for something great" (Kevin Kimtis of New Jersey). "It is by far the best vocation video I have ever seen. It will touch the hearts and minds of many across the country" (Brandon Macadaeg of California). "Fishers of Men goes beyond what any person could expect of a vocations film. This film touched my heart and soul!" (Chad Eckles of Utah).
Joseph Campo, producer of Fishers of Men, said, " I speak for everyone on the Grassroots Films staff when I say that we have always had a positive view and appreciation of the Catholic priesthood throughout the world, and we are grateful for the opportunity to portray what it means to be a priest in the film, Fishers of Men."
Monsignor David J. Malloy, General Secretary of the USCCB, said, "I thought Fishers of Men was extremely moving. It reminds us why we became priests. I would love for my nephews to see it."
The Reverend Edward J. Burns, Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation said, "With the release of the Fishers of Men DVD, all the elements are in place for the Priestly Life and Vocation Summit project."
"Through workshops for priests, the goal of this is project is to renew and regenerate the priesthood in the United States. It is intended to help priests articulate the joy in their vocation that the overwhelming majority of priests feel and to give them confidence that if they extend the invitation to consider the priesthood, they will find that Catholic men today, especially young men, are open to the challenge," Father Burns said.
"Working with Mr. Joe Campo at Grassroots Films and his entire crew has been a joy. They have a tremendous amount of talent and zeal. Their love, appreciation and loyalty for the Catholic Church are quite evident in their work," Father Burns added.
The project has four phases:
Phase I: a diocese agrees to participate in the project and prepares for a summit – or convocation –of the diocese's priests.
Phase II: This phase includes interviews with a broad sampling of the priests in the diocese, the results of which will be presented at the summit. Interview questions are intended to elicit responses that will reveal things such as what prompted the priest to consider a vocation and what about his vocation does he value most.
Phase III: The Summit itself, during which the assembled priests will reflect further on the questions asked in the interview phase, share with one another their responses, and discuss ways to share their renewed sense of contentment with other men who might be thinking about a vocation to the priesthood. The film, Fishers of Men, has been produced to inspire this discussion.
Phase IV: The ongoing follow-up to the Summit. It involves the development of a strategy for keeping priests actively engaged in inviting men to consider a vocation to the priesthood. Fishers of Men continues to be a resource for use in encouraging men to consider the priesthood.
An extensive resource kit prepared by the Vocations Secretariat includes everything a diocese needs to implement the project. Sample letters, interview questions, timelines, a model agenda for a day-long summit, as well as a sample PowerPointŪ presentation are all contained in a three-ring binder sent to all 195 dioceses in the United States.
When the project was first announced last October, Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City (SD), the chairman of the USCCB Committee on Vocations, summed up the project by saying that "its purpose is twofold: to renew in us priests and bishops an awareness of how treasured the gift of priesthood is and what it means in each of our lives; and to encourage us all, inspired by this renewal, to urge other men to consider the vocation which we have received as a gift."
The Fishers of Men trailer can be viewed at www.usccb.org/vocations. A limited number of copies of the entire 18-minute video is available to the media. To request a copy, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.