For many years now I have been advocating the need for full-time vocation directors. I am fully aware of the desperate wrench that appointing such a full-time promoter or director can be for dioceses and religious orders when there are so many other needs to be met. In recent times in Ireland, I have noticed that some religious congregations have appointed lay staff in the roles of communication and of vocations ministry. This is a move forward. As far as I am aware, only two male religious congregations and one diocese in Ireland has a full time vocations director. Does this suggest that the Irish church is taking vocations promotion seriously? Hardly.
Evidence from around the world shows that when there is a concerted effort at the promotion of vocations and when a culture of vocations is fostered by a diocese or religious congregation that there follows, after a period of time, an increase in those interested in pursuing vocations and an increase in those taking the step to join.
So, instead of bemoaning the lack of vocations and suggesting that the Lord has stopped calling individuals to follow him through the path of priesthood and religious life, we would be far better off actually doing something about it. Having special committees to do more navel gazing will not solve the problem, neither will inertia, nor indeed will those who suggest that it is time for congregations to fade out (believe me I have heard this with alarming frequency). This really is the time for action. We need full-time vocation directors - otherwise we are failing in our responsibility to carry out the call of Christ to bring labourers into the harvest.