New Frontiers in Vocation Ministry

Brian Moras sdb

‘Vocation ministry’ aims at enabling every young person understand what God wants him/her to do in his/her life. Within this broader spectrum, our vocation ministry focuses more specifically on helping young people understand if God is calling them to the Religious or Salesian way of life. Today, responding to this ‘Call’ has become challenging for a variety of reasons: for example, the families are generally getting smaller with just one or two children, especially in the cities. But in spite of this, we believe that God is still calling people to religious life. We are also looking for quality vocations in a time of scarcity. In my experience, we need to focus more on the following approaches to be effective in this ministry:

Community Service, Volunteer Movements
Religious life by itself is service oriented. We will need to give our youngsters an experience of service, generosity and sacrifice. This would help them to reflect on a deeper level and discern God’s call for them. They could be made to help out as Volunteers for a week at least, in-service ventures, examples of these could be: the evening study classes/ following up the studies of the weaker boarders/ helping out with street children/ volunteering for a month in the rural areas of Ahmednagar or Gujarat. The key is to guide them during these processes and help them to reflect on these experiences together with the group.

When a youngster has this meaningful experience, the chances are that he may discover a liking to this ministry and possibly discern God’s call to this way of life. This would work wonderfully with senior youngsters (post X and working youth).

‘Each one, get one’
We need youngsters from our own parishes and institutes to join us. For this we need to help them discern God’s plan in their lives. For the last six years our track record has been poor; just one or a maximum of two youngsters joining the Aspirantate at Lonavla, and that too from just a few of our Parishes and Institutes.

We have heard it so often, “Every Salesian is a Vocation Promoter”. The good thing about this is, ‘it is true’, and our Vocation by itself has this dimension. I have been reminding my confreres in the Provincial House. “Follow up at least one probable vocation for the year”, and they have promised to do their bit!

It would be ideal if we could be spiritual guides to these youngsters, without using this terminology. We need to meet them for a meaningful chat every month and check on their progress, i.e., apart from meeting them in class, on the corridors and on the playground. A visit to their family would complete the process. The Rectors would need to remind the community members about this obligation.

A Community member responsible for Vocations
It would be very important to have a member of the community (need not necessarily be the Rector) who scouts for vocations in the locality . Studies show that congregations who work for Vocations, get the maximum numbers. We would also need to keep in mind that God calls the unqualified and qualifies them for the mission. Jesus had a preferential love for the simple and the unqualified. Most of his followers were ordinary fishermen. Today too, the best youngsters rarely join us; it is usually the simple and the average youngsters who do. In this ministry focus more on the simpler youngster and empower him.

At the National Level, for some years now, we have been having Inter Provincial vocation camps, wherein Vocation Promoters from other provinces can come to the guest province (with due permission from the guest province provincial) and scout for vocations. This phenomenon is not known to most in our province. At the ‘National Vocation Promoters and Directors Meeting’ at Chennai in November 2009, we had a discussion about these camps and the protocol that needs to be followed.

We have also realized that there is a possibility of getting post X and XII vocation probables from the Trichy and Chennai Provinces (Two attempts had been made earlier by our Province, but have failed to bear fruit due to various reasons). The good news is that the Vocation Directors of these Provinces are open to this possibility, though they have some recommendations.

I believe it would be healthy to recruit good youngsters from these regions. If they fit in well, they could enrich the group with their commitment and enthusiasm. A mixture of cultures in the one common mission is always healthy. We are also fortunate to have confreres in our Province, who are willing to try recruiting youngsters from the Chennai and Trichy provinces. This would imply that we need to be open to accommodate these youngsters at Lonavla.

As scripture says,
How will they know unless they hear,
How will they hear unless someone tells them?
It’s time to move more daringly in challenging youngsters to answer God’s Call.
As history shows us that we either ‘Evolve or we Erode’.

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