The Society of Divine Vocations (Latin: Societas Divinarum Vocationum), commonly known as the Vocationist Fathers, is a Roman Catholic clerical religious congregation of Pontifical Right for men (Priests and Brothers) founded by Fr. Giustino Russolillo (1891-1955) in Italy on October 18, 1920. The Vocationist Fathers have their motherhouse at Pianura, which is in the Province of Naples in Italy. Its members add the nominal letters S.D.V. after their names to indicate their membership of the society.
Our Lady of Divine Vocations – The Vocationist Fathers has its main charism as “identifying and fostering vocations to priesthood and religious life, especially among the less privileged”. (Our Lady of Divine Vocations) The Vocationists work in Vocationaries (considered as their most characteristic work and most special and primary field of action), parishes, schools, and missions. Currently, the Society of Divine Vocations in her missionary spirit serves the people of God in Italy, Brazil, U.S.A., Argentina, Nigeria, Philippines, India, Madagascar, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, United Kingdom, and Chile.
The Society of Divine Vocation is a religious institute of Pontifical Right. They live in communities and profess the three evangelical counsels of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience while majoring the work of Vocation. The Vocationist Fathers believe themselves to be specially called by God as vocation experts, counselors and midwives in the Church. Their work is to help people discern properly and answer the call of God in their lives.
By the reality of their vocation-oriented charism, a “Vocationist”, a name given to them by their founder, Fr. Giustino Russolillo, and coined from the word “Vocation”, is one who has an exceptional love for vocation, one who is a specialist in caring for vocations, one who dedicates his life to vocations, and one who is committed to working and praying for vocations.
According to Fr. Giustino, other religious institutes wait for vocations and welcome them, while the Vocationists, personally and purposely, go out searching for them, especially through their catechetical schools and other apostolates.
In other words, their activities are highly riveted on matters of vocation and in all, their immediate objective, though not their goal, is to see people being guided to properly discern their vocations and being helped to realize them by responding appropriately to God’s call in their lives. Their ultimate goal is to help all attain Divine Union with the Blessed Trinity by means of universal sanctification of all souls.
Our Lady of Divine Vocations – For Fr. Justin, the most special function of Mary is to form souls according to the heart of God, as God wants them, as God desires them to be! The vocation of Mary is to form Jesus in every soul, and to make every soul not only holy as to be Jesus, to make it another Jesus, but also to make it another formator of Jesus, to form soul-spouses of God and this is also our vocation according to Fr. Justin.
On February 14, 1938, Fr. Justin wrote in his “Book of the Soul” saying, “It is as if the Blessed Trinity dictated to me in a particular way that the Blessed Virgin Mother is my immediate spiritual directress. Opere, Vol.11, p. 115.
Fr. Justin convinces us to examine our obligation to reserve a part of our day for an intimacy with Jesus and deepen our devotion to Mary, mediatrix of all graces, queen of all saints and mother of divine love, patroness of our congregation, this three-fold title we use to address Mary at the beginning and at the end of our prayers. She is the channel through which all graces flow. All graces come to us from the heart of Mary and through the hands of Mary. Fr. Justin was strongly convinced that it is very important to find and to keep ourselves, as much as possible, close to her hands and in her immaculate heart.
Fr. Justin knew how to appreciate, promulgate and practice all the liturgical, ordinary and extra-ordinary Marian devotions such as recitation of the holy Rosary, the use of scapular, miraculous medal, novenas, pilgrimages and others. He was a member of the confraternity of the most holy Rosary and had worn the scapular of our lady of Mount Carmel until he died.
In addition, Fr. Justin had a great devotion to the Miraculous Medal. On November 27, 1937, he wrote in his “Book of the Soul”: Feast of the apparition of the Miraculous Medal, and he said; “the Miraculous Medal has freed me from the repulsiveness and fear of my physical cardiac ailment while I was praying the rosary.
Every November 27, Fr. Justin publicly imposed the miraculous medal to the students of the Vocationaries, orphanages and to parish communities, and marked this day as a feast of the miraculous medal. On April 21, 1953, Fr. Justin wrote in his “Book of the Soul”: “Let us use the bigger form of the miraculous medal, holding it always in our hands as in a perpetual embrace. It will be a sign in your hand as a remembrance and imploration of all the laws of love. We give it especially when miracles are needed for the good of another in body and spirit. The Virgin of the miraculous medal will really be for us our lady of miracles.”
Fr. Justin recommends each one of us to have a miraculous medal “before beginning any spiritual activity for the coming of the reign of Jesus Christ, at the beginning of every scholastic year, of any preaching ministry and of every spiritual assistance to any soul, we should bless it solemnly and publicly impose the miraculous medal of Mary Immaculate carrying it ahead of us in every enterprise as a banner. Through this medal, we will have a personal devotion as there is a real liturgical devotion. ”
Fr. Justin wrote and stated: “It was given to me the certainty that the Blessed Trinity has given the Blessed Lady the Office of Immediate Superior of the Society of Divine Vocations, present and working in our midst in all the offices and in all our houses, studies, works, and everything. On February 11, 1932, the blessed mother visited and spoke with him, and on May 11, 1932 was established as the Feast of the Superiorship of Mary Most Holy in our congregation.
According to Fr. Justin, “God could never be alone. Wherever God is, the whole heavenly court is with him. Since God is everywhere and Mary is always with him, our faith in the special presence of Mary everywhere is justified. Our lady is truly present especially in the room dedicated to her. Then, he said; “remember that the Blessed Lady is your mother and takes care of you.
Every evening she passes by your bed, and aside from tucking you in to make sure that you are well covered, she smiles at you and blesses you. Let us not make our heavenly Mother sad with our shortcomings. The blessed mother visits every soul especially those who wait to be sanctified, those who are blessed with a religious and priestly vocation and still more to those who nurture vocations. He said that we can learn the perfect devotion to Mary from someone who knows her, the angels and the saints.
Fr. Justin noted that the Blessed Trinity has honored and loved Mary, has chosen her from all eternity, choosing her as daughter of the Father, spouse of the Holy Spirit and mother of the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. There is no other person on earth and in the heavens destined to be like her. Therefore, he strongly recommends each one of us to deepen and nurture our devotion to Mary, and to unite ourselves to the respect and love that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have for her.
Our spiritual life, every act, every work, every devotion must lead to and be transformed into prayer. We should honor her, Queen of all Saints, Mother of divine love, Mediatrix of all graces and our Lady of Divine Vocations, inspirations and missions. The blessed mother helps us and offers us her example, the fiat of her heart to the heart of Jesus, to the will, glory and love of the Blessed Trinity.
Fr. Justin continued in his “Book of the Soul”; “Mary is the rich earth, all in her, everything in her, men, women, cities, empires, life, and Everything! To her we have to entrust all divine seeds of grace, of works and of any good so that they may bear fruit.
The blessed mother with God the Father is all maternal mercy and goodness, love and sweetness towards every soul. That’s why all of the saints including Fr. Justin, our founder had special love and devotions toward her, and so let’s constantly remind ourselves of the important role of Mary in our religious life as Vocationists, and remember Fr. Justin’s recommendation to deepen and nourish our devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Our Lady of Divine Vocations – This title of Mary comes to the Church from the Rogationsists Fathers and the Daughters of Divine Zeal whose primary focus (apostolate) is the promotion of vocation. Their founder, St. Hannibal Mary Di Francia, founded these religious orders. There are many images of the Blessed Virgin Mary that fall under this title of Mary. Most of them deal with Mary inspiring and protecting vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Archbishop Carlson has stated on a couple of different occasions that if each parish in the Archdiocese of St. Louis would produce one seminarian every ten years, the shortage of priests would come to an end in our Archdiocese.
Our Lady of Divine Vocations – We would think that each parish could produce one seminarian every ten years but sadly we are not. We therefore too should pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary to help increase vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We can also help increase vocations to the priesthood and religious life by praying by name for an individual who we think maybe a good priest, inviting and supporting our young people to think about the priesthood and religious life, and by letting people know how much you value the Sacraments.
Prayer For Vocations
Our Lady of Divine Vocations – Hail Mary, full of grace; all generations call you blessed. Hail Mother of God; when asked by the angel to bear the Son of the Most High, filled with faith, you responded: “Let it be done unto me.” Holy Mother of Jesus, at the wedding feast at Cana, you prompted your Son to perform his first sign. Be with us as we discern our life’s work and guide us in the way we are called to follow in the footsteps of your Son.
Holy Mother of the Savior, at the foot of the cross you mourned the death of your only Son. Bless and embrace the loving parents of all priests, deacons, brothers and sisters. Holy Mother of the Good Shepherd, turn your motherly care to this nation. Intercede for us to the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers to the harvest in this land dedicated to your honor. Queen of Peace, Mirror of Justice, Health of the Sick, inspire vocations in our time. Let the word of your Son be made flesh anew in the lives of persons anxious to proclaim the good news of everlasting life.
Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the world! We humbly beg of Thee to manifest in Thy Church the Spirit Whom Thou didst so abundantly bestow upon Thy Apostles. Call, we pray Thee, very many to Thy priesthood and to the religious life. And may zeal for Thy glory and the salvation of souls inflame those whom Thou hast chosen; may they be saints in Thy likeness, and may Thy Spirit strengthen them. O Jesus, give us priests and religious according to Thine own Heart! O Mary, Mother of Jesus! Obtain for fervent souls the grace to hear and the courage to follow thy Divine Son in the path of religious perfection.
Queen of Apostles, pray for us.
Queen of Virgins, pray for us.
Our Lady of Divine Vocations – Spiritual mothers of priests have additional concerns, although not in ways all that different from those of biological mothers. She prays that priests will be holy, that they will be conformed to Christ, have the humility to allow Christ to work through them in every moment, and will be good Fathers. She takes them as her sons by adoption, yet loving them as her own, just as Joseph loved Jesus as his own child.
She carries them with her in hear heart, pondering the Paschal Mystery, the Misterium Fidei, and the Priestood, knowing they are one and the same. She ponders deeply the needs of her Sons, understanding human nature, never in denial of that reality, even as she recognizes how we strive for holiness, and the importance for all that their spiritual Fathers, Priests, remain in a state of sanctity. Holy Priests create Holy People. It’s a fact that cannot be denied.
And if one of those Priests should fall, she does not abandon him, but prays and sacrifices all the more so that he, like the Prodigal Son, might return home and be welcomed and celebrated by the Father.
Our Lady of Divine Vocations – She remains in the background, always implied, never seen, rarely recognized, few words spoken or recorded, and therin is her mystery and her necessity. Just as the Priest empties himself in order to stand in persona Christi, so does the spiritual mother empty herself in order to allow herself to be pierced with Divine Love and be so united with Christ at the foot of the Cross that she can lay down her own life for the Church.
Feast Day – 11th May
Annual Feast Day of Our Lady of Divine Vocations is held on 11th May.