From December, 1st to 3rd 2017, the first International Congress on the vocational pastoral took place in Rome and gathered about 800 religious people from all over the world who were involved in the youth and vocational pastoral.
Nathalie, Anne-Catherine, Elisabeth and Luisa were called to take part in the name of our Province Europe-Togo.
The objective of the Congress : to enable religious life to make proposals to the bishops’ synod on “The young, faith and the discernment of vocations” which will take place in 2018, so that religious life is present and participant to this reflection.
On the occasion of this Congress, Pope Francis sent a long message to the participants. You can read it on the Vatican website
Mgr José Rodriguez Carballo commented the gospel according to John 1, “come and see”. Vocation is call to follow Jesus and the first criterion for discernment is to make sure the person searches for God, knowing that if we are able to search for God, it is because he first searched for us. God’s call is free and religious life should be a perpetual Magnificat because of the gift to live with Him.
Jesus passes, He sees, He loves and He calls. These verbs are all important in the youth pastoral.
Conditions and manifestations of the following of Jesus:
Detachment: the call is an experience which enables to make the distinction between ‘before’ and ‘after’ and to take distance toward oneself, the others and material goods.
We shall take care of the quality of consecrated life and remember that the young have another experience, different from those of their trainers. We shall listen to the experience of the young.
Religious congregations can end, but not religious life itself. We shall listen to the young who ask us to do so. Don Bosco said that the young have sensitive areas which can enable us to get in touch with them. We shall not stop on their starting point, which is always relative, but look at the point of arrival, the destination. The Church shall listen to them otherwise there is a risk to give answers to questions nobody asked. The disciples of Emmaus are a good image to say how to live in relation to the young people. The first announcement is essential, the kerygma. The young tell us: “do not speak about Jesus Christ, let us encounter Him”. Create experiences which lead to meet Christ and pass down the grammar of Christian life.
Villanueva asked: “how do the young see religious life?” According to him, we are considered as social service providers! We should thus wonder: do we try to share a charism or manage charities? He reminded us that we are not philanthropists but apostles. We shall show that the work of God is love. Thus change charities into presence. We shall develop a vocational culture; this is to consider any life as a vocation
according to him, is: how can our communities be lively places when life is expressed in so many different ways in the various cultures? The main difference is not in ethnic terms, but in generational terms. The media globalization is a reality all over the world. Being alive, for a young, is
being connected. But virtual communities tend to gather people who all think the same. Indeed, modern time is afraid of difference. The Internet
logarithm connects us with people who think the same and prevent us to meet those who think in a different way! So, how can religious life face this challenge? The risk of refusing difference is challenging religious life itself. The arrival of young people in our communities
enables us to discover who we are. We shall discover our identity, and meeting with other
The big challenge is: how do we support specific cultures in this pilgrimage and go beyond toward the Reign? Radcliffe gave 3 clues: understand religious life as a radical call to leave our home, follow Christ beyond our small worlds, and dare to face the timidity of our culture.
Support the young with a strong theology of the vows, knowing that the vows are a way to live free. We need a strong, creative and courageous leadership.
Trust the young, offer them tranquility and calm. Enable them to ‘cut their teeth’. Practice the art of conversation in order to be open and welcoming to other ways of thinking. Help the
young to become people who proclaim their faith with intelligence. This requires humble listening: I can learn from the other who has something to teach me. If we dare to learn from the young, we acknowledge their authority. And we get back respect.
Then we listened to the presentation of various pastoral experiences about vocations throughout the world. In turns, each participant presented what is done in his country: we
went from Brazil to the Philippines, then Cameroun, France (with sr Nathalie Becquart, xaviere sister, directress of the national service for youth and vocation) and finally Northern
In Brazil: creation of a pastoral institute of vocations gathering 13 congregations to show the beauty of consecrated life.
In Vietnam: a youth hostel for students and young workers, as an alternative to houses of formation close to the parish.
In Cameroun: 10 regions, 2 languages, 50 ethnic groups! But a diocesan group for vocations shows the ordination sacrament and religious life.
In Assisi in Italy: with the Franciscan brothers, an orientation service for the young, based on three dimensions: evangelization, vocational call, individual accompaniment. Young people
In the USA: a survey is presented. We shall use social media to promote vocations and touch the young where they are. And we shall meet them personally.
chose two propositions for vocational pastoral, which we consider as priority and realistic, and we send them to the dicastery.
unceasing course of discipleship during which man lets himself be led by Christ, prompted by the Spirit, through the radicalness of the Gospel. The
experience of faith is not a cloth to put on from the outside… at the risk of being “pagans with two slices of painting”! But it touches all the dimensions of the self.
- Self-knowledge. Educate the person to be true with oneself, free… (n°63). Without being afraid of facing herself, at the risk of escaping from reality. Inner formation
implies various kinds of formation, combining both the trainer and the trainee. Put words on one’s weaknesses, needs, own history…
- Develop human virtues, self-knowledge, freedom of being oneself (n°93), inner and psychological freedom which helps being careful to the details in everyday life,
following the law of gradualness.
- Be able to have sane relationships, affective and sexual maturity.
God is creator and creates new!
Vocation is nice.
Challenges: That the others see us as happy disciples following Christ. Know today’s humans.
2) We need a change of vision, of ways of doing, and ways of speaking
b. Know also the young members in our own communities
c. Change of mentality: without change, nothing can be new!
c. Radicalness: put Christ at first place.
2) The vocational pastoral is inseparable from evangelization of families and the proclamation of the kerygma.
3) The focus is the encounter with Christ. The Lord calls and the young responds. We shall sow humbly and confidently, and Jesus will grow the seeds; thus, avoid “pastoral show” or
4) The vocational pastoral shall propose to the young the Gospel’s high requirement and not be afraid of being demanding.
5) Believe that Jesus can, even today, fulfill a life and give a deep sense to life.
6) Work to make religious life significant and evangelical. The vows should be understood not as renunciation, but as abundance of life. Fraternal life should make us more human, be the
starting point for mission, and thus become a vocational fraternity.
7) The vocational pastoral takes care of all vocations and there is a need to work together: consecrated people, priests and lay people.
8) The vocational pastoral requires that we put into practice the method of Emmaüs: provoke the young, interprete their questions from the experience of life, tell story, lead them to Jesus and the sacrament of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, talk with them, enable them to give a free and responsible answer. This is a method where they are actors.
9) The vocational pastoral also requires that we are experts in accompanying the young, making the journey of the young. We need men and women who build bridges.
10) Prayer is the first and the best service that we can offer for vocations.