Transcript of CS#119: Jerry Usher Vocation Boom

Transcript of Interview with Jerry Usher about VocationBoom.com. This interview and others like it can be found at http://www.catholicspotlight.com

Listen Now to the audio version of the show.

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Chris Cash: Welcome to Catholic Spotlight. This is the Catholic Spotlight, the show where we talk about what’s new, cool and exciting in the Catholic marketplace. I’m your host Chris Cash, director of E-Commerce for catholiccompany.com, your source for all your Catholic needs.

And today in the Spotlight we have Jerry Usher. We’re not really talking about any products today; we’re talking about vocations and Jerry’s new project VocationBoom.com. This is an incredible new resource to help reach out to those who are being called by god to enter the priesthood. Jerry, welcome to the show.

Jerry Usher: Thank you, Chris. Great to be with you again.

Chris Cash: And I apologize for the sound quality for those of you on the show listening. Jerry is having an incredibly busy day, but he has found a little bit of time to squeeze us in and he’s on a cell phone. But you know I’m sure that we’re going to listen in and really hear some great stuff regardless of how the sound quality is. So, Jerry, can you tell us about what was the impetus for starting up this Vocation Boom?

Jerry Usher: Well, Chris, this goes back really about 20 years to when I was in the seminary myself as many of your listeners may know, I spent a few years in formation for the priesthood in the late ‘80’s early ‘90’s. And well, I just stood at a real sense from my heart at that time that I wanted to everything I could to promote vocations for priesthood. And a good friend mine, we both went to Franciscan University, and he is now our native priest, Father Darrin Merlino. We had started a newsletter called In Persona Christi and we are sending that up to seminaries around the country, really around the world. And we did that for a few years and then, just due to a lot of circumstances, time, constraints and everything and budget and all that, its just kind of – it was just something we weren’t able to continue for the time being, but you know we’d hoped all this kind of bring it back. But my vision included not only that newsletter but using media, multi-media and maybe even doing conferences or retreats around the country on the priesthood and so. That desire that vision on my heart just kind of remained there and kept growing and growing, and growing for about the last two years I’ve been trying to move this vocation boom vision forward. And then when Pope Benedict proclaimed the year for priest, I thought wow you know this is just a confirmation of everything that’s been on my heart to do in this regard.

Chris Cash: Now, every diocese has a vocation director, somebody who is in charge of encouraging vocation within that dioceses, every order has a vocation director in a vocation department. Where did you see that they were falling short that you needed to help assist in this way?

Jerry Usher: It wasn’t a matter of, thinking they were falling short at all. I just think that you know there is really what we wanted to do is we want to try and reach some of these young men before they would even have any contact with a vocation director. In other words, as you so well know because you may use of all the new media, we’ve got you know Facebook, Twitter, podcasting, YouTube, you name it. This is where young guys today are hanging out and they may not ever come in contact with the vocation director, unless where they see something like our Website, you know a lot of diocese stop in our Website. So, this is in no way a commentary on the job that’s been being done by vocation directors. They got their hands full, most of ‘em are usually full time and *** [03:56] and everything, and they are doing a great job. We just want to help out and really try and cast that net as widely as we can and then, hopefully when these guys had a say the priest that really might be something that I could in my life, then they would approach a vocation director. So, this isn’t saying at all you know that they have been doing a good job, this is in competing with them. Hopefully, this is just complementing their work and even you know – maybe even you know doing a little bit of work, ground work before these guys would ever have any contact with vocation directors.

Chris Cash: You know and there is no shortage of places where we need to get the word out. I can remember back when I used to be a youth minister, our diocese was running ads on MTV to encourage people to consider vocations. They were very nicely done ads; it just said have you ever thought about being a priest. And they were getting calls from non-Catholics, saying I’m interested in being a priest. So, you know even if it doesn’t necessarily lead to a vocation, it certainly does lead to opportunities to open up conversations about our faith.

Jerry Usher: Absolutely. You know we got to be using all the various forms of media. You know the other side, you know *staying* [05:14] in the dark side, they certainly make use of the media tremendously. And you know of course there are the councils and the Popes and everybody have been calling on Lay – especially, Lay Catholics to do their – not just for years but from decades. And you know we’re starting to do that and hopefully, vocation boom is all our contribution to making use of – you know fully use of the media to help Church in someway and what other way than with regard to vocation. Because you know without the priesthood, you know we would never sacrament the Eucharist and fashion and all that. So, I used to feel like, we got to be making use of all the media like this.

Chris Cash: You know and the other thing that I personally see as needing additional help in resources is just parents coming to an understanding that they should at least present vocations as an option to their children, because I feel like there are so many parents who if they hear their son or daughter is considering a vocation, just shut that down right now and say I, wont grant children.

Jerry Usher: Yes, yes that’s you know – I mean there used to be of course six, eight, ten kids in a Catholic family. And you know it was a great joy when you know two, three or four among the last priest, a religious life. Yes, its unfortunate when you see that attitude in parents, it’s certainly not across the board. But yes, I think we really need to be encouraging our young people today. We don’t have – we don’t necessarily have the same influences that there were a couple of generations ago, you know when Catholic schools were – they were all taught by priests and nuns, you know 20, 30,. 40 years ago. We don’t have that, so that the priest does not *infer* [06:57] our young people nowadays, and that’s just a lot of other things. But yes, I think parents – and what they want to do – we’re going to have a section on Vocation Boom dedicated to helping parents and families and friends know what to do when one of their family members starts exhibiting signs of a vocation or even so that he thinks he might want to look into the priesthood. A lot of family and friends – friends by frankly don’t know what to do after that. They think for themselves what do I do to help this. We want to have a session on the site to give them a resource.

Chris Cash: Yes, you know it – its something that I’ve noticed even the army has been doing lately is running advertising to help parents process how to react when their child says I’m interested in joining the armed forces. So, it’s definitely something that will be useful. Now, one thing that I think is really awesome on your site is you have a great section of videos that are little snippets that are kind of small commercials that on in a YouTube kind of format. You want to talk a little bit about the development of those?

Jerry Usher: Well, I tell you what; we got a fantastic creative team that has done a great job. We – they put together a number of constant videos just for Vocation Boom, but what you see on the site, you know we also have kind of being looking around on YouTube for videos that we could link up to on our site. And I don’t know how much you’re on there right now, maybe a couple of dozen but you know overtime we hope that the site is going to house maybe you know perhaps hundred or even thousands of videos. We eventually want to make the site much more interactive, kind of like a Facebook type of site where users can have their own profile and put *** [08:46] personal information about themselves and you know have friends and connections, maybe e-mail addresses. And then, be able to upload photos and videos. We really wanted to be a global online meeting place for those men thinking about the priesthood in those dioceses and orders that are looking for good candidates. So, and obviously, we feel like you know videos are very important. Look at YouTube, how many young guys are in YouTube probably everyday. So, we wanted to come out with some pretty cool videos, and I think our creative team did a nice job.

Chris Cash: And I’ve also had a similar conversation with someone from the Daughters of Saint Paul’s about how the first place someone often goes nowadays when they think, you know I might have a vocation is they go out online and they start doing searches on YouTube and through the social media sites. Its kind of feel out, if that might be something that’s really on their heart, so having these kind of ads out there both in the social media space as well as on YouTube are very important.

Jerry Usher: Yes, without a doubt. Like you said you’re right on Chris. You know if a young guy, a family, you know with a son, they’re thinking you know they want to go to a priestly vocation here, they don’t often think, like you said well, let me call my pastor, let me call the dioceses, which are great ideas, but they may just Google. You know Google is our – Google well – Google, Google knows everything. You know I like…

Chris Cash: Google is safe; it doesn’t feel like you are signing your life away by telling your priest.

Jerry Usher: Yes, exactly. You know and there’s tons of information out there. As I like to say Google knows everything.

Chris Cash: At least, they’d like you to think that. That’s for sure.

Jerry Usher: Right, right.

Chris Cash: So, now – right now, this site is dedicated specifically to men and the vocation, the priesthood, there are other sites out there that are dedicated to vocations for women. Maybe we’re able to – if any of you women spiritual directors who are out there have a similar site, give us a – some feedback and we’ll see about featuring you on our show sometime as well, because we certainly want to encourage women’s vocations also. What other resources do you have available here on your site?

Jerry Usher: Well, right now there is several times that have just information. One kind of a general description of who and what a priest is. There is kind of steps to follow, and these are not – you know its not like we have all the answers, but we just – there’s several suggested steps that if you feel like you might have a vocation, some things you can do. And they are very simple, like pray, discern, talk to your family, find out a wise priest, the holy priest you could talk t, get involved in your parish, you know spend time in prayer. Things like this and then just a little bit about you know – well, once you move beyond that, you know the application process and then, god willing you get the seminary and get ordained. And we have a link – I mean a page with links to all the diocese and seminaries around the country. And we have a link now, but it doesn’t have the information on it yet, but we’re going to have a vocation directory – a vocation director directory, if you will where people will click on a link and find the vocation director in their area. You mentioned the gallery with the photos, you know its just a – I think there’s a lot of good stuff up there right now, but like I said earlier this is really hopefully just scratching the surface on what the side eventually will be.

Chris Cash: And of course, one thing you can always do to help out the ministry is or the apostle is to follow them on twitter. You can go to Vocation Boom, you can see where you can follow, on twitter, you can find their Facebook page and become a fan. You can follow them on YouTube, tell your friends about it, spread the word, especially those of you with young men friends who might be considering a vocation even if they haven’t said something about it yet. This is just a really good way to gently spread the word and let people know that hey, vocations can be cool.

Jerry Usher: Yes, you make a great point. You know with the Facebook and the twitter, and I have to admit, I still have a lot to learn about how to use all of those resources. But its just immediate communication and contact today, well, they will be wanting to get the word out quickly and really widely with those you know media sources is just tremendous. So, yes, we got some of our people to take advantage of that.

Chris Cash: So, is there anything else specific that someone listening to the show today might be able to do to help you out in encouraging vocations?

Jerry Usher: Well, certainly spread the word, that’s all we’re asking. You know this is a – it’s a nonprofit initiative. I don’t plan to ever take a dime from this. I do have some people that I have to pay, so you know we need to do some fund raising if anyone you know wants to help us out. That’s not the purpose of you know spreading the word today, but you know I just ask people to get the word out there, because we all know young man and maybe not so young man who we will get them at least say, I wonder if he has a – he might have a vocation, he’s the type of guy, he exhibits these signs that he may – you know I think he’ll make a good priest and maybe they’re even thinking about that, but they don’t really know where to turn. And again, we’re just one of the many resources out there. We’re not the only resource, we’re not the definitive resource, but we feel like overtime we’re going to have something pretty valuable to offer. And so, I would just ask people hey, VocationBoom.com get the word out, that’s the most important thing you can do.

Chris Cash: Well, and you know it also bears mentioning that this is not necessarily always just for young men, there are many older men out there who I have known several very excellent priests who did not realize their vocation until they were in their 40’s and 50’s. And sometimes even they raised their family, they’re widower and they decide in their 60’s or 70’s to – well, probably not in their 70’s, but and much later in life decide to start exploring the idea of a vocation, so.

Jerry Usher: Yes, I agree, I’ve known back that I was in this one – like I said I was in the seminary and there were plenty of guys in their ‘50’s and ‘60’s, so its not just for young men, but obviously we’re trying to design the site you know with a younger audience in mind, because then it gets easier for you know some of this little bit older maybe in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s whatever to relate to you know more of a younger style site and for some of this younger, if we were to design the site you know more for an older person, you know the younger people might have a tougher time identifying with that. So, you know our target audience certainly is maybe is you know 17 to 28 something like that, but you know there’s something on the site for everybody.

Chris Cash: Absolutely, especially once you start getting the sharing resources available and more information up there on how to contact and who to contact.

Jerry Usher: Yes.

Chris Cash: Well, is there anything else you wanted to share with us? I know your time is little tight today, so.

Jerry Usher: Well, I would just ask people to pray for this site. And then, the Website like I said there’s going to be a lot more done to the Website and then we hope to even roll out a radio show and a TV show. And do those conferences on the priesthood that I mentioned in the beginning. And so, it’s just a – it’s a big initiative; we’re thinking big, we’re dreaming big. If god you know wants to bless and he will if not He wont. I think it’s of god, so I would just ask everyone listening right now to please especially keep the initiative in your prayers.

Chris Cash: And definitely go, follow on Twitter, follow on Facebook, become a fan Facebook. The more people who do that, the – even if you’re not so interested in it in yourself, it helps to bring attention to the site. So, that other people who might benefit from it will see it.

Jerry Usher: Yes, absolutely.

Chris Cash: Well, thank you so much Jerry for all that you are doing to help encourage our young men and to bring about the more priests that our church desperately needs right now. We really, really appreciate that and you know that’s why I wanted to get you on this show. So, thank you so much.

Jerry Usher: You are very welcome Chris. Keep up the great work.

Chris Cash: All right, have a great day. God bless.

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Transcript of Interview with Jerry Usher about VocationBoom.com. This interview and others like it can be found at http://www.catholicspotlight.com

Listen Now to the audio version of the show.

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