Following on from the very succesful second annual 'Invocation' 2011 conference at Saint Mary's College, Oscott in Birmingham, I wonder if there is an appetite in Ireland for a similar type event?
'Invocation' 2011 is an initiative of the National Office for Vocation in England and also is supported by the Episcopal Conference. It is primarily a vocations discernment conference - allowing participants to meet religious, foster fellowship, engage in catechesis, avail of the opportunity for confession, spend time in adoration, have regular prayer events and the celebration of the eucharist. The three day event is unashamadely focused on discernment if vocations to religious life and priesthood. This year close to 700 young people attended this conference.
In a climate that is generally hostile to the promotion of religious vocations, the number of people who attended this event is positively surprising. It clearly demonstrates that, with proper planning and promotion, such an event is possible - and that there is a real appetite for authentic discernment.
I was unable to attend the conference event though I was invited as an observer, but it did set me thinking about the possibilities that could exist for an event like 'Invocation' in Ireland. Here is a real opportunity for collaboration between the National Vocations Office in Ireland, Vocations Ireland, the Irish Episcopal Conference and other interested bodies such as CORI and Saint Joseph's Young Priests Society to come together in a unified manner to promote vocations to religious life and priesthood.
Should such an event happen? The answer is clearly yes. Could such an event happen? The answer is clearly yes - as long as there is goodwill and cooperation between the various parties. Will such an event happen? I don't know and wouldn't be too optimistic.
For my part, the campaign begins here. Over the next weeks during the summer, I will be communicating with all the various parties mentioned above to seek their views and support in hosting Ireland's 'Invocation'. Who knows, maybe we will be talking about Invocation Ireland 2012 soon!