Vocations Guide to Priesthood
In his book “To Save a Thousand Souls” Fr Brett Brannen describes an unusual practice he introduced when he was the Vocations Director in the diocese of Savannah, Georgia. He states:
“As vocations director, I used to offer what I called “Shadow Programs.” Once I had identified a couple of men whom I considered to be promising candidates, I would invite the two of them to come spend a few days with me in the parish. They stayed with me in the rectory and they simply went with me everywhere and watched everything I did.
I made sure that we went to the nursing homes to visit the sick. We went to the prison. We visited the children in the Catholic school and we worked in the social apostolate. Finally, on Saturdays and Sundays, we set up and celebrated the weekend Masses. They watched as I went to hear Saturday Confessions and as I celebrated Holy Mass for the people. If there was a hospital emergency during those visits (and it seems there often was), I woke them up in the middle of the night to go with me. They watched as I gave the Sacrament of Anointing and Viaticum to the dying.
On a number of occasions, these “shadow program” experiences “sealed the deal” for a man who was discerning, and he made the decision to go to the seminary. Regardless, men would always leave on Sunday saying “Father I had no idea what the life of a priest was really like. I didn’t know what a priest did. This will change my discernment.” What they meant was that they had more information with which to discern