If you are actively discerning a vocation to the Priesthood, Diaconate, Consecrated Life, or Marriage and you are looking for information to help in your discernment, BE SURE TO CHECK the section at the bottom of the right sidebar for the "labels" on all posts. By clicking on one of these labels it will take you to a page with all posts containing that subject. You will also find many links for suggested reading near the bottom of the right sidebar. Best wishes and be assured of my daily prayers for your discernment.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Answer to priest shortage lies in homes, diocesan camps"

After reading Bishop Bruskewitz book (excerpt on vocations), I will now repeatedly refer to the BIG 3 of vocation/discernment promotion: Bishops/Priests/Religious, Parents, and Catechists/Teachers. These three groups are the most important and influential in terms or forming children in the faith and in teaching them to discern what God is calling them to - regularly placing before them the possibility that He might be calling them to the Priesthood or Religious Life. Unfortunately very few members of these three groups actual promote vocations on regular basis. Bishops are starting to because they are being forced by sheer need, some priests are, very few families are, and catechists/teachers, well not so much. To create a culture of vocations requires the BIG 3 of formation to make discernment a part of the air we breath. Not simply to get more vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life, but so that more of our children will grow up discerning what God is calling them to do with their lives, and in so doing, finding true peace and joy, rather than doing what they want and finding what so many in today's world find - depression. Not clinical depression of course, but the deep sense of unhappiness and an almost total lack of joy in ones daily life. Polling data varies, and is difficult to use reliably due to variations in the surveys themselves, but the results are the same - a large percentage of people are dissatisfied with their jobs/what they do for a living. Use of anti-depressants is skyrocketing, particularly amongst teens and young adults. Contrast this with the eleven novices for the Sisters of Life pictured in my earlier post - they radiate joy, it's contagious when you are around them, but by the "world's" standards they should be miserable. Not to say that if everyone were a Priest or Religious they would be filled with joy - of course not, in fact most people would be miserable if that were not what God was calling them to. The reality is that we have lost almost all sense of humbly listening to what God wants us to do, and spend most of our time telling Him what we want to do.

The article below by Bishop Vasa touches on this. The full article talks about the summer camps for youth they will be running in their Diocese, but obviously addresses the need for vocations promotion.

From the Catholic Sentinel
By the Most Reverend Robert F. Vasa


In the very midst of these camps I have scheduled a diaconal ordination at the cathedral in Baker City for Friday, June 27. Daniel Maxwell, presently engaged in a formative pastoral year at Bend, will be ordained to the transitional diaconate which means that he is on a path toward priestly ordination.

There is no one in the diocese who is unaware of the ever-present need to provide priests for our rural and far-flung parishes.

There are very many who are aware that the shortage of priestly vocations from our own diocese is compensated for by borrowing, temporarily, priests from other dioceses and other nations. I reiterate my gratitude for the service which these priests provide to our diocese.

I reiterate my gratitude to all of the priests, both local and international, who have responded to God’s call to become “fishers of men” and who serve the people of our parishes. I am reminded daily that ordination does not automatically assure perfection and I can assure you that my life and duties would be much easier if it did.

Priests and bishops are not perfect. The families from which they come are not perfect. The people whom they serve are not perfect. Yet, trusting in Divine Providence, I must believe that God has called them and that it is part of His inimitable plan for them to be serving here.

I also believe that it is part of God’s plan that priestly and religious vocations come precisely from the midst of the people who are served by the priests of a local diocese. These vocations need to come from the families of our own parishes.
There are many concerns voiced to me about the priestly cultural differences and I am fully aware of the fact that these differences can create tensions.

A more thorough enculturation process is always offered as a part of the solution but cultural differences are not overcome within the context of even an extended process.
It is only very rarely that the solution offered to the problem of cultural differences is the generation of more local priestly vocations.

I do believe that unless the people of God as a whole, in the Diocese of Baker, recognize that the priests serving in our diocese need to come from the midst of the people of the diocese, there will continue to be enculturation trials. I want to reaffirm that I thoroughly enjoy the international characteristic of the priests serving here in the Diocese of Baker.

The wide range of cultural differences do provide a challenge but I relish and am grateful for the diversity. That does not mean that I relish a continued reliance on international priests as the default solution to the ever-pressing need for more priests.

The fostering of vocations to the priesthood and religious life is not something which begins when a young person is in college.

It begins and must begin in the home. It begins with the family of origin. It begins with faith-filled prayer.

It begins with faith-filled prayer that God would bless your family with a vocation to the priesthood or religious life from among the members of your own family.

It begins with planting good and wholesome seeds of positive thoughts about priests and religious.

I believe it can begin with a young person’s participation in the diocesan family, elementary, junior high and high school camps.

These are very positive and engaging encounters with the diocesan Church and they help us recognize the family nature of the parish and the diocese.

These camps do have a strong spiritual and catechetical component to them and this perhaps needs to be strengthened even more but they are not at all lacking in the recreational and interactional elements.

Even at our temporary location this year there is provision for a slip and slide, volleyball, fire circle and general exploration.

There will also be time set apart for morning prayer, Mass, rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, individual confession and adoration. I believe that our camps need to reflect a different spiritual reality.

It is one thing to see the camps as a time when we can interject some spiritual and catechetical components in the midst of fun. It is quite something else to help young people realize that it is good, wholesome and indeed very possible to engage in some very serious spiritual and catechetical work and have fun at the same time.

One approach seems to put spiritual things a little more on the fringe of life while the other speaks more clearly about the centrality of God and spiritual elements and the joy which reverberates from that.

For the promotion of priestly and religious vocations, relationship with God needs to be central. God needs to be the center of our camps.

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