Saturday, September 6, 2008

Are we ready to receive new vocations?

I was recently asked to give an interview to one of the Catholic newspapers in Ireland, and to address the question: Is there a vocations crisis? My answer to the question posed is that there is a vocations crisis if we want there to be one! There isn't a vocations crisis if we make decisions to be bold and to put out into the deep, make ourselves known far and wide, have a deep concern and care for those who wish to join our way of life and if we make the changes necessary to welcome new vocations. There is certianly no vocations crisis if we place our faith and trust in the Lord and pray earnestly that he send labourers to the harvest.

The reality for many religious congregations (male and female) in Ireland is that they have not had vocations for many years. It remains an immense challenge for them. The question that we and they have to face is this: are we willing and able to receive new members? In my experience, religious congregations often ask the wrong questions - they often ask whether they can adapt to meet the young where they are? They often ask whether they even want to do that? They often ask the question as to whether they ought to die out rather than compromise what now seem to be vital aspects of our lives which the young reject? Congregations really must ask the most serious question: is there space for new members?

It is a vital question! So often, I hear of congreagations setting up committees and commissions about how to tackle the perceived vocations crisis. This leads to a lot of talk and little action. I often hear members of congregations say that they have served their purpose and that it would be wrong to encourage people to join them! I find this eminently sad and contrary to the Gospel.

It's often easy to blame the world, the young, the Church - even God for the lack of vocations. If there are no vocations, congregations need to ask what are they really doing about it! Are they really willing to receive new members? Are they ready to be challenged by the young and not so young?
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